English Literature

Very Short Introductions, from Oxford University Press

See the Very Short Introductions series for Literature books

From Oxford University Press, Very Short Introductions offer concise introductions to a diverse range of subject areas - a bridge between reference content and higher academic work. All titles provide intelligent and serious introductions written by experts in the field who combine facts, analysis, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make challenging topics highly readable.

Reference Books

Reference books offer great starting points and background reading on a topic.  Listed here are some of the more important reference books available at the Trent Library.  Call numbers are provided for print books; links for online.


Search the Library Catalogue for Books

Library Catalogue search or browse

Library Catalogue Power Search


When you want to find books in the Trent Library, search the Library Catalogue. There's an online tutorial available to tell you about the Library Catalogue.

Use a keyword search to find items on a topic. To improve your results, use a "Power Search" and truncate your terms.

The Library uses Library of Congress Call Numbers to classify books.

  • PN 1-6790 is General Literature, but literature is also organized by country.
  • PR 1-9680 is English Literature.
  • PS 1-3626 is American Literature.
  • PS 8000-8599 is Canadian Literature.


Terminology Notes:

The Library Catalogue uses LCSH (subject headings) in most records, to help us identify items of interest.

  • The term "imagery" is used as a psychological term, and not literary.
  • The term "symbolism" is rarely used for literature.

To find books by an author, browse for the author's name.
Authors are listed last name first.  If the name is unique, a last name may be enough; if not, add a first inial.  Remember to change the browse button from to "author" (from the default - "title").

  • ondaatje gets you to the right place on the list, where you can select:
    Ondaatje, Michael, 1943-
  • wells h gets you to the right place on the list, where you can select:
    Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946.

This gets a list of all the books written by the author.

To find books about an author, look for the author as a subject.
Books about an author are most often listed with a subject of the author's name and "criticism and interpretation".  Change the browse button to "subject".

  • Munro, Alice, 1931- --Criticism and interpretation.
  • Pinter, Harold, 1930- -- Criticism and interpretation.

The quickest way to find books about an author is with a keyword search including the author's last name and "criticism"

To find books about a particular work, use a keyword search with the author's last name and a word from the title. 
The subject often appears like this:

  • Atwood, Margaret, 1939- Edible woman.

Some subject heading are more general or more specific, so be creative about how you search. Other sample subject headings:

Literature and science
Literature and medicine
Literature and the war
Literature and the revolution
Literature, Comparative
Literature, Modern
Discourse analysis, Literary
Postmodernism (Literature)
Women and literature
Gothic literature


The majority of our e-books are included in the Library Catalogue and can be found with any search. The record includes a link to the e-book.

  • To limit a search to e-books, use the Power Search option and change the location to "E-Book".

The following resources contain collections of e-books. Most offer the option to create an account for yourself and save books, as well as adding notations and highlighting.