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English Literature Library Guide: Home

English Language and Literature Students' Library Guide

Literature Online

Literature Online 

The new platform for Literature Online.

Literature Online is a fully searchable library of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama and prose, 175 full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and reference resources.

·         Includes authors from the eighth century to the present day.

·         Find the full text of more than 350,000 works of poetry, drama and prose.

·         Search across full text journals.

·         Find online reference works, bibliographies, biographies and student guides.

The Study Guides and Penguin Edition  introductions in LION's Reference section are incredibly useful tools for starting any literature essay since they gives you a clear overview of the work, author or topic, and often have a bibliography of the key works on that topic.

You will find Literature Online  (LION) in our A-Z Databases list. Go to the Library Home Page at, mouse over Electronic Resources and Select Databases from the drop down menu. If you are off-campus you will need to sign into the off-campus login on the library home page - use your student number and the password you use on the UCT network.

We have a number of printed literature encyclopedias on our Reference shelves too, of course. Ask for them at the Information Desk in the library.

Finding Books

Where are your books?

English books are shelved on the Lower Level of the Library, down a spiral staircase near the Information Desk. English Grammar and Linguistics books are shelved on level five.

Some shelf numbers which might be useful are listed below.

420 English Language and Grammar (on level five)
810-829 Literature written in English
(on the Lower Level)
810-819 American Literature
820 English and Old English Literatures
821 English poetry
822 English drama
823 English fiction
828.9 Literature from other countries
828.968 South African Literature
829 Old English Literature.

Reference books (with an R preceding their shelf number) can be found under similar shelf numbers on shelves near the Information Desk. They are always a good way to start an essay since they provide overviews of authors, books or subjects.

 Using the catalogue (Aleph) to find books

You will find the library catalogue on the UCT Libraries webpage. Mouse over the "Search and Find" tab and select "Catalogue" from the drop-down menu.

The easiest way to search for a specific book is to type in the author's last name and a word or two from the title, separated by AND. For example, Dickens AND Bleak House. This quick-and-dirty searching is particularly useful for literature students since it brings up not only Bleak House but also books about Bleak House.

You can also search by other keywords, for example, Literature And Gender. Avoid using complete phrases since these will miss records which do not use exactly that phrase.

It is sometimes difficult to guess a formal subject heading. However, if you find a good book by keyword searching, you can click on the number next to the record and see the subject headings that were assigned to it. Clicking on these subject headings will launch a formal subject search that will bring up more books just like it. It is also worth bearing in mind that library shelf-numbers keep related books together, so, if you find a nice book, you can browse on the shelves near it for related material.

If you do not find what you are looking for on the catalogue, please do not hesitate to ask for help at the Information Desk.

Heineman African Writers Series

African Writers Series 

The African Writers Series forms part of Literature Online and contains work by all the major African authors of the second half of the 20th century. Over 350 volumes of fiction, poetry, drama, myths, memoirs and reportage.

Times Digital Archive

Times Digital Archive 1785-1985 

Researchers can search through the complete digital edition of The Times (London), using keyword searching and hit-term highlighting to retrieve full facsimile images of either a specific article or a complete page. The entire newspaper is captured, with all articles, advertisements and illustrations/photos divided into categories to facilitate searching.

Early English Books Online

Early English Books Online (EEBO) 

Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700 - from the first book printed in English by William Caxton, through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online

 Eighteenth Century Collections online (ECCO) 

Use Eighteenth Century Collections Online to access the digital images of every page of 150,000 books published during the 18th Century. With full-text searching of approximately 26 million pages, the product allows researchers new methods of access to critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.