FINDING BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIAL
For finding biographies about an author, do a search in ACORN by typing the author's name (last name first) in the search box, choosing "begins with" as a search type, and then clicking on the "subject" button. Look for "biography" as a subheading, or look at the items under the main heading for that author.
Check the biographical databases available electronically on the "All Databases" Heard Library page (note that these subscription databases are restricted to Vanderbilt users only). In particular, you should check American National Biography (a full text resource) for American authors. Biography and Genealogy Master Index is an index that contains citations to biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as other biographical sources.
For brief biographies, you might consult LION: Literature Online or the Gale Literary Criticism series, especially the Contemporary Authors series (see "Finding Literary Criticism" page). You might also check in Encyclopedia Britannica or a literary handbook or dictionary, such as the Oxford Companion to English Literature or the Oxford Companion to American Literature. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature: An Encyclopedia in Eighteen Volumes is available free online through Project Bartleby (http://bartleby.com/cambridge/); you can do a search or browse the chapters.
Another Gale series with a biographical focus is the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Each volume focuses on a particular literary movement or genre, a specific language or national grouping, or an important historical period--or a combination of these. Each volume has a separate editor who is a scholar in the field; essays within a particular volume are written by subject specialists. Each essay is a "literary biography" in the sense that it traces the development of an author's career, including a biographical essay that connects the life to the works. At the end of the essay you can find a list of interviews (where appropriate) and a brief list of articles about the author. The volumes are heavily illustrated. This series is cross-indexed with the other Gale series; the index is also cumulative for the DLB.
You can find these volumes in the Reference Stacks on the 4th floor:
Don't overlook the possiblity of finding accurate and authoritative information on the Internet. The following websites contain biographical material for many famous people, not just authors:
Biography.com (http://www.biography.com): This web site is sponsored by A and E television network, in connection with their nightly biography series. There are more than 20,000 entries.
Biographical Dictionary (http://www.s9.com/biography): This web site has over 28,000 entries, covering people from ancient to modern times. You can search by name, birth or death dates, professions, and achievements, as well as with keywords.
Lives: the Biography Resource (http://amillionlives.com): This "meta-site" is a listing of links to other sites; you can browse alphabetically by last name, or by topic. The site warns that it only includes biographies of people who are deceased.
The following are links to web sites that focus on literary matters, including biographical material.
Literary Resources on the Net [maintained by Jack Lynch of Rutgers] (http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Lit/): Lynch has created a collection of links to Internet sites, especially those dealing with English and American literature. You can search the site or browse through the different categories.
Voice of the Shuttle [maintained by Alain Liu of University of California, Santa Barbara] (http://vos.ucsb.edu/): This site covers all areas of the humanities; in particular, you should look at the "Literature (in English)" link.
PAL: Perspectives in American Literature--A Research and Reference Guide (http://www.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/table.html): This list of links is organized by time period and by topic.
[Compiled by Martha Kallstrom; for questions and comments, contact Deborah Lilton at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Date: July, 2010