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Finding Free Literary Resources: Works by Specific Authors, Poetry, etc.

This guide is intended to acquaint you with how to access literary resources free of charge.

Literary Resources by Author


  • Shakespeare Plays from Folger Digital Texts: Provides digital editions of the Folger editions of Shakespearean plays taken from the 2010 edition of the Folger Shakespeare Library. They are very easy to read online, they are searchable, and they contain line numbers to facilitate teaching and quoting. Folger also makes their coding freely available to researchers or developers for non-commercial purposes.
  • Shakespeare Resource Center: Includes information on Shakespeare himself, Elizabethan England, an overview of the four periods of Shakespeare's works, and links to Shakespearean criticism. You will also find discussion of authorship controversies, as well as an overview of Shakespeare's use of language--including an online glossary--and links to other sites with relevant information on Shakespearean English.
  • "And there's the humor of it": Shakespeare and the Four Humors: An exhibit created by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NLM) with contributions from the Folger Shakespeare Library. While it does not provide access to the texts, it is significant in its blending of the history of medicine with Shakespeare's  literature. The exhibit demonstrates how Shakespeare's characters reflected the prevalent medical assumption of his time: that human behavior can be explained in terms of four bodily humors--blood, bile, melancholy and phlegm.

Walt Whitman

  • Walt Whitman Archive: Provides access to Whitman's vast body of work. It includes biographical and critical information, as well as his manuscripts, letters and published works. There is also an image archive and a recording of "American" in what is believed to be Whitman's voice.

Jane Austen

  • Jane Austen's Fiction Manuscripts: These manuscripts represent every stage of the writing career of Jane Austen, from childhood through her death at the age of 41. They include working drafts, handwritten facsimiles and publications intended only for circulation among family and friends.

 Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning

  • The Browning Letters: A digital collection of correspondence written and received by the poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. The collection can be browsed and searched by author, date, keyword, or the first line of the text. The letters provide insight into the lives, works and thoughts of both poets.

The Shelly's, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft

  • The Shelley-Godwin Archive: This archive contains the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Including differentdrafts of such manuscripts as Frankenstein, the user can zoom in on a handwritten copy side-by-side with a copy in printed texts.

Mark Twain

  • Mark Twain Project Online: Produced by the Mark Twain Papers and Project of the Bancroft Library and the University of California Press, this site provides access to texts, notes, letters and documents written by Mark Twain. Its ultimate goal is to "produce a digital critical edition, fully annotated, of everything Mark Twain wrote." A User Guide shows users how to search and browse and adjust viewing options.

Poetry Resources


  • Poetry Foundation: The purpose of the Poetry Foundation is to raise the visibility of poetry and to broaden its audience. The Foundation's website includes a "Poem of the Day." It also organizes poetry by topic, intended audience and poet. There are also audio recording of some of the poems.
  • Created and maintained by the American Academy of Poets, this site includes over 8,500 poems, 3,000 biographies of poets and essays about poetry. Find poems organized by occasion, theme, poetic form and poetry schools and movements. There are also audio recordings of poems and video of award-winning poets reading their works, delivering lectures or conversing about poetry.
  • e-poets network: Provides voice and video and text of Chicago-based spoken-word poetry. The creator of the site, Kurt Heintz, defines e-poets as " poets, artists, writers, and performers who embrace the electronic media as a venue and home for their art." The main sections of the site are the spoken-word poetry contained in the Book of Voices--to which The Women Made Gallery Poetry Archive has been added--and Videohteque, which contains poetry video. The e-poets network has partnerships in Canada, California, Australia and England.
  • Americans Saying Poems They Love: This site is part of the Favorite Poem Project, founded by Robert Pinsky, 39th Poet Laureate of the United States. The site features videos of Americans from across the county, and representing a variety of demographic characteristics, reading the poetry that they find special and meaningful. Under each video you can see the tex of the poem as you view the video.

Miscellaneous Literary Sites

Below are links leading to miscellaneous sites of literary interest.

  • The Center for Fiction: Located in Brooklyn, NY, a central part of its function is to serve as a lending library and reading room. Its mission is to "encourage people to read and value fiction and to support and celebrate its creation and enjoyment." The website informs readers of local events, including author readings, reading groups and writing workshops. Of interest to readers everywhere are authors' essays and videos of authors' talks and discussions. It also provides access to essays and it its e-journal the Literariean (click on the link to Fiction in the Stories menu) as well as a series Syntax/Synapse which holds events and posts essays relating to the intersection between fiction and neuroscience.
  • Dime Novel and Popular Literature: Part of the digital collections at Villanova University, this particular collection includes publications ranging from about 1860-1930. It is divided into eight collections and includes works that are part of series, mass-market fiction, non-fiction (including instructional and educational material),stories published in magazines, scholarship about dime novels and popular literature, audio editions, and ephemera relating to dime novels and popular literature. You can search the collection by keyword, author, title, subject and date.Note that the material reflects the unedited attitudes of the time they were written and include racist, sexist and ethnic stereotypes
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