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English Literature: Primary Sources

Resources for the USD community interested in literature and literary criticism.

Primary Sources for Literature Scholars

This section of the English Literature subject guide is to help get you started in finding primary sources to support literature research. For more information about locating primary sources, please see this page from the History: Research Paper Basics subject guide:

"A primary source gives the words of the witnesses or the first records of an event. Primary sources include manuscripts, archives, letters, diaries, and speeches... Secondary sources are 'descriptions of the event derived from and based on primary sources'."

- from Helen J. Poulton, The Historians Handbooks (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972), p. 175-76.

Below is a list in progress of primary sources freely available online:


HathiTrust (from Copley Library's guide)

This is a not-for-profit collaborative of over 200 academic and research libraries, preserving 17.4+ million digitized items.

British Victoria Period Research

A guide from Michigan State University of free websites relevant to 19th-century Britain and Ireland.

Victorian Literature Research Guide 

Another library subject guide, this one from DePaul University Library. Note that some resources listed are free while others my be subscription-based resources not available to researchers at USD. 

Dickens Journals Online

The DJO provides online editions of Charles Dickens' weekly magazines.

Victorian Lives

A collection of documents from the U.K.'s National Archives relating to lives in Victorian England. 

Victorian Web

An interlinked collection of documents and images relevant to the study of literature and life in Victorian England. 

Euro Docs, Britains 1816-1918

An extensive online collection of a variety of primary sources from the Harold B. Lee Library of Brigham Young University.