Literaryhistory.com is an internet library of literary scholarship that has been continuously maintained since 1998. We catalog reputable reference materials for canonical English and American writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including peer-reviewed critical articles, books, and biographies. All the materials in our library are available to the public directly through our links.
At literaryhistory.com a human editor screens and selects internet articles. The editor has an MA and was all-but-dissertation for a PhD in English, has a broad background in the periods and writers covered here, and is familiar with academic editing and publishing standards. Articles that are selected were written by recognized scholars and signed, or by well-known authors commenting on other writers, or in the case of unsigned introductory articles, have been published online by reputable organizations and publishers from the print and academic world.
All reference materials cataloged here have been placed online by other parties. We link to them only if we're sure they're not in violation of copyright law. We do not take advertising. Ads are inserted by Google when users do a custom search in our site. We don't endorse any of the companies that appear there or receive any money from them or Google. The ads are the price we pay for using the Google custom search app.
In recent years the more generous policy of JSTOR has made it possible even for those of us without passwords to a university library to delve very deeply into serious literary criticism, directly from the JSTOR web site. Literaryhistory.com can't compare to the riches available at JSTOR. We offer a mere sampling, from JSTOR and other sources, of literary criticism that is acceptable for college-level and graduate-level research.
Literaryhistory.com began as a demonstration project, meant to show how a free online reference site could replicate the quality and reliability of a traditional reference library and at the same time take advantage of the possibilities of the internet, linking to photos, sound files, videos, and delivering full-text at a click. Online bibliographies like this would be better if they were created or at a minimum overseen by scholars who are specialists in the authors under consideration. Because so much "reference material" on the internet is of questionable value, it requires screening by scholars. Traditional cataloging by trained librarians as is done at the MLA Bibliography or by librarians at university libraries for their lists of recommended web sites is not adequate, because some degree of peer review is needed for most web site offerings. Ideally, author webliographies created by specialist scholars will some day be compiled and available online through university and public libraries.
After 19 years on the internet, literaryhistory.com demonstrates that a digital library can be easy to design and code and cheap to publish. The biggest problem in the early years of maintaining this web site was removing dead links, but this is much less of a chore now, since good material is now less likely to be moved or removed. The primary challenge for us in recent years has been competing with the kind of sites that Google favors. In our early years, Google's algorithm gave preference to sites referred by academic and library web sites, and literaryhistory.com was often the first or second result on an author search. Google's methods have changed greatly in recent years, and now literaryhistory.com pages appear very late in a list of Google returns. We don't have the budget to pay Google to advertise, or to hire a consultant who knows how to game the Google results, so literaryhistory.com has become less and less visible on the internet, even while our quality and the quality of the web sites that we refer to has become better and better. We depend on word of mouth now, so if you find this site useful please let others know.
Please note that some of our author pages have not been updated in several years. For the best examples of our webliographies, go to the new and updated pages listed on our main page.
Jan Pridmore, Editor
Jan Pridmore is an independent scholar who has edited and published literaryhistory.com since 1998.
send email to jpridmore at literaryhistory dot com