While literary histories aim to offer a well-informed and reasonable objective overview, they are more detailed and interpretive than encyclopedias. They are useful for learning about trends in literature over a broad period. For example, you might want to place a work in the context of the development of a particular genre or within a period in history.
Histories provide background reading to address other questions such as: What form did literature take in the fifteenth century? Which female authors were writing in the Middle Ages? When did a particular school of criticism begin? Histories generally represent the consensus view against which new ideas or interpretations can be tested.
This literary series (15 volumes) covers English literature from earliest known works to present. Each volume contains critical writings on a particular successive literary period. Includes excellent bibliographies. To find the Library's holdings, search QCAT by series title.
A Literary History of England
REF PR83.B3 1967
"Although dated in many respects, the work is still the best single-volume history of English literature".
Intended as a history of Western literary theory and criticism from classical antiquity to the present. Each volume of the 9 volume set consists of separately-authored essays on major theorists, groups, movements or schools, periods, and genres, and concludes with a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.