Universiteit Leiden

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Subject guide

English Language and Culture

Overview of databases, reference works and websites for research in English language and culture.

Literature to 19th century
Beowulf, Arthurian literature, Chaucer, women writers from the 16th/17th century, romanticism, gothic/horror, victorian literature, modernism
Focus Contemporary literature
Literature of the British Isles, USA, and to a lesser extent Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and the rest of the Commonwealth; science fiction and popular literature, 9/11, migrant literature, postcolonial literature
Focus Linguistics
Syntax and semantics, second language acquisition, (historical) sociolinguistics, translation studies
Focus Cultural sciences
Popular culture, British film (1930-1970), theatre

The majority of the paper English collection can be found at the main University Library. Most of the books are in closed stacks and can be requested through the Catalogue

Reference collection

Reference works and other relevant books are available on the first floor, via entrance 8. Items from the reference collection cannot be borrowed, but it is possible to make copies or scans. The reference collection comprises:

  • Reference works and bibliographies
  • Primary and secondary literature on an array of subjects
  • A selection of the most important dictionaries
  • Journals (only current issues)

The reference collection is organized by the Library of Congress Classification (LCC). Book titles in the field of English are mostly found in these classes:

  • PE : English language
  • PR : English literature
  • PS : American literature
  • Z : Bibliographies

Paper journals

Current issues of journals on English language and culture which are not available digitally, are placed in the round journal cabinets at the entrance to reading room 8. Back volumes are generally located in the S-UB (basement, stairs next to the information desk). Journals in the Closed Stacks can be requested through the Catalogue.

Find our databases on English language and culture in the catalogue.

To the catalogue

The Modern Language Association International Bibliography (MLA) is an important bibliography for language and literature.

The Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (LLBA) is a known resource for searching publications on linguistics.

Cambridge Companions is the e-book portal of Cambridge University Press. It offers access to the full-text of the Cambridge Companions in Literature and Classics and the Cambridge Companions in Philosophy, Religion and Culture. Individual titles included are not displayed in our catalogue.

The Literary Encyclopedia Online is steadily growing database with background information on classical and modern literature, written by specialists worldwide. English, American, German and Russian literature are well represented, the coverage of other regions (including The Netherlands) is slowly getting improved. 

Early English Books Online (EEBO) contains digital facsimiles of more than 100,000 publications that were published in Great-Britain, British North America as well as all works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) contains the full text of more than 135,000 publications that were published in Great-Britain between 1701-1800.

Literary Manuscripts Leeds provides access to a rich and diverse range of manuscripts from the period 1600-1800, from the hands of canonical authors to more unknown and anonymous, never-before-published works, varying in genre from letters to satire.

Perdita manuscripts consists of complete facsimile images of over 230 manuscripts written or compiled by women living in the British Isle during the 16th and 17th centuries. Contents include account books, advice, culinary writing, meditation, travel writing, and verse.


  • Photography and travel photography of Great Britain, among others famous buildings in London, Ireland, Scotland (from the nineteenth century).
  • Rare early experiments (nineteenth century) of pioneers in photography: William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) and Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), whom in the UK worked on the development of the negative-positive process in salted print or calotype.

Manuscripts, archives and letters

Medieval manuscripts

  • Manuscript with texts in Middle English: Poems of John Lydgate (VGG Q 9).
  • Latin manuscripts produced in the British Isles (or on the mainland under insular influence): 40, including Pliny the eighth century (VLF 4), a Priscian from the ninth century with annotations Johannus Scotus (BPL 67) and a codex with an Anglo-Saxon riddle of Aldhelm (VLq 106).

Post-medieval manuscripts and private archives

  • Editorial archives of international scientific series published by Mouton: Janua linguarum, The proprietatibus litte perforatum (eds. C.H. van Schooneveld), Trends in Linguistics (eds. W.Winter).
  • Collection Harry Hoogstraten: correspondence, drawings and poems by authors from the international avant-garde and underground literature.


Search by name in the Catalogue. See also Subject Guide Letters.


Several publications in English are in the collections of UBL, Bibliotheca Thysiana en Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (16th-19th century). See also Subject Guide Early Printed Books.


A modest group of prints by British artists, including an interesting ensemble of William Hogarth, focusing on portraits. 

Maps and atlases

  • Approx. 1200 land and sea maps, military maps and city maps, including manuscript maps (sixteenth century et seq .; see Bodel Nijenhuis, 151 t/m 158) and about 20 atlases of the British Isles.
  • approx. 500 topographical prints (sixteenth century ff) of the British Isles.
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