Biographical Dictionary of Literature


Charles Dickens“Writers may be disreputable, incorrigible, early to decay or late to bloom
but they dare to go it alone.”
— John Updike

Much of the information in this section was taken from John W. Cousin’s A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature.  Some data, particularly that which involves writers in languages other than English, has been taken from an older encyclopedia.  Information from other sources is usually identified as such.  I have taken it upon myself to edit or supplement most of the older entries, and to add to them newer ones, particularly those involving more recent authors.

Abbott to Dyer

Earle to Irving

James to Norton

Occam to Synge

Tabley to Zangwill



b. born Edin.    Edinburgh   
c. circa fl. flourished
Camb.    Cambridge      Glas. Glasgow
Coll. College m. married
coll. collected Oxf. Oxford
cr. created pres. president
d. died pub. published
dau. daughter Prof. Professor
ed. educated sec. secretary
  { edition s. son
ed. { editor Univ. University
  { edited    

The following list gives some of the best known earlier works of biography, still very appealing and very much worth perusing:

Allibone, Critical Dictionary of English Literature and English and American Authors, 1859-71, Supplement, by J.F. Kirke, 1891; W. Hazlitt, Collections and Notes of Early English Literature, 1876-93; R. Chambers, Cyclopædia of English Literature, 1876, 1901; Halkett and Laign, Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous Literature, 1882-88; Dictionary of National Biography, ed. by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, 1885, etc., re-issue, 1908, etc.; Appleton’s Cyclopædia of American Biography, ed. by J. Grant Wilson and John Fiske, 1887, etc.; J. Thomas, Universal Dictionary of Biography and Mythology, 1887-89; Men and Women of the Time, 15th edit., ed. by Victor G. Plarr, 1889.

Available on amazon: