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English: which resources do I use?: 18th-19th Century

Unsure which resources to use for your English module or piece of research? This guide will point you in the right direction.


You may find some of these books useful. See your reading list for the required and recommended reading for your module.

Archives and Special Collections: Victorian studies

Visit the Archives and Special Collections libguide to find out more about the Victorian collections at the University, inlcuding Sir John Betjeman's Library and the Hypatia Collection.

The Fireside







Visit the webpage for University of Exeter's Centre for Victorian Studies to see details of current and past research projects.

Defining Gender

Defining Gender is a collection of original primary source material from British archives.

  • It will aid those studying history, literature, sociology, education and cultural studies from a gendered perspective.
  • The types of documents in the collection vary from pamphlets and letters to diaries and illustrated writings.
  • Topics addressed range from anatomy, children and education to etiquette, fashion, sexuality and sport.


To find material from the 18th and 19th centuries, try searching the resources below:

For help using these resources, see the guides on this page.

Other resources include:

ProQuest One Literature/Literature Online: search by literary period or movement

When searching ProQuest One Literature, you can refine your search by literary period.

Click on Advanced Search and choose Primary Texts on the left side of the page.

Click on Look up Literary Periods.

Either search for Eighteenth Century or browse alphabetically and select Eighteenth Century, 1700-1799 and add to search.

You can add additional keywords and author details if you like, or just click Search to see everything under this category in the database.

Alternatively you could search by literary movement, if applicable, e.g. Gothic novel (1764-c1820) or Romanticism (1780-1837). Click on Look up literary movement to select from a list.

Discovering Literature: Romantics and Victorians

Discovering Literature is a free resource from the British Library:

"The site uses manuscript and printed sources to shed light on the historical, political and cultural contexts in which key literary works were written. Users can explore high-resolution digitised images; articles written by scholars, poets, novelists and journalists; short documentary films; and teachers' notes."

Oxford Scholarly Editions Online

Oxford Scholarly Editions Online gives access to primary texts from writers between 1485-1901.

Browse by Work, Edition or Author.

Once you are inside the full text of a work you can:

  • Move through the play with the arrows  at the top of the page. 

  • Shrink the left-hand navigation bar by clicking the little arrow at its top, if required. 

  • Hide the notes if you prefer by unchecking the notes box on the title bar

  • Click on the note symbols at the ends of the lines to scroll the notes pane to the right place. 

The three little tabs on the left help you navigate around the work or edition.

  • The magnifying glass tab lets you search, jump to a print page, see the pdf of that original print page, or jump to a location in the text. 
  • In the Location box, enter 3.3.57 if you want to go to Act III Scene iii line 57

At the top right of the tool bar you'll find pdf and printer icons for saving or printing.  

  • If you highlight some text and choose ‘Copy and cite’ from the pop up menu, you’ll be able to automatically add a citation and the URL to the text you highlighted, so you can copy the lot: convenient for note-taking.

Run a 'Quick search' across works, titles, authors, and full text.

For example, search "to be or not to be"

You can refine your results using the options on the left hand side; for example, choose to refine where your keyword appears by checking the relevant box under 'Show Hits Within'. You can also refine by author, genre or date.

Jump to a precise location in a text, e.g. Shakespeare Sonnet 18, or Marlowe, Faustus, 12.81


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