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Children's literature: reference sources

This is a selective list of predominately printed reference sources relating to children's literature which are available in the Humanities Reading Room or Rare Books & Music Reading Room. Electronic resources can be accessed on British Library workstations within these Reading Rooms. The shelfmark of each item is given at the end of each citation. 

CollectionsBiographical sources
Bibliographies and cataloguesHistorical surveys
Companions, dictionaries and encyclopaediasMiscellaneous



Dolores Blythe Jones, Special collections in children's literature: an international directory. 3rd ed. Chicago; London: American Library Association, 1995.

 Bibliographies and catalogues

English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)

The Nineteenth Century (see: "Children's Literature Collection")

The New Cambridge bibliography of English literature. 5 vol. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969-1977.
- Vol. 1: 600-1660. Col. 953, 2399.
- Vol. 2: 1660-1800. Col. 282-3, col. 1013-1034 [by Iona and Peter Opie]
- Vol. 3: 1800-1900. Col. 1085-1110 [by Roger Lancelyn Green]
- Vol. 4: 1900-1950. Col. 783-820 [by Brian Alderson]
HLR820.16 & RAR 820.16
Cambridge bibliography of English literature. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Vol. 4: 1800-1900. Section 4.v: Children's books [by Diana Dixon].
HLR 820.16 & RAR 820.16
The Osborne Collection of early children's books: a catalogue. Prepared by Judith St. John. 2 vol. Toronto: Toronto Public Library, 1975. (Vol. 1 is a reprint with corrections of the 1958 ed.).

Brian Alderson and Felix de Marez Oyens, Be merry and wise: origins of children's book publishing in England , 1650-1850 . London: British Library, 2006. [Exhibition catalogue]

RAR 809.892

 Companions, dictionaries and encyclopaedias

Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard, The Oxford companion to children's literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.
International companion encyclopedia of children's literature. Edited by Peter Hunt. 2nd ed. 2 vols. London: Routledge, 2004.
Stella Lees and Pam MacIntyre, The Oxford companion to Australian children's literature. Melbourne; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Lexikon der Kinder-und Jugendliteratur.../ herausgegeben von Klaus Doderer. 4 vol. Weinheim: Beltz, 1975-1982.
The Oxford encyclopedia of children's literature. Jack Zipes, editor in chief. 4 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
HLR 809.89282
Victor. Watson, Cambridge guide to children's books in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

 Historical surveys

F.J. Harvey Darton, Children's books in England: five centuries of social life. 3rd ed. rev. by Brian Alderson. Reprinted with corrections. London: British Library, 1999
Percy Muir, English children's books 1600-1900. London: Batsford, 1954.
John Rowe Townsend, Written for children: an outline of English-language children's literature. 6th ed. London: Bodley Head, 1995. Reprinted 1997.

 Biographical sources

See for general sources and for further resources.
Dictionary of literary biography. Detroit: Gale, 1978-.

Vols. 141, 160, 161, 163 [British children's authors] 22, 42, 52, 61 [American authors]
Also available online via Literature resource center (onsite only).

Brian Doyle, Who's who of children's literature. London: Hugh Evelyn, 1968.
St. James guide to children's writers. 5th ed. [i.e. of: Twentieth-century children's writers.]. Editors Sara and Tom Pendergast. Detroit; London: St. James Press, 1999.
St. James guide to young adult writers. 2nd ed. [i.e. of: Twentieth-century young adult writers.]. Editors Tom and Sara Pendergast. Detroit; London: St. James Press, 1999.
Martha E. Ward et al., Authors of books for young people. 3rd ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow, 1990.


Raymond E. Jones, Characters in children's literature. Detroit; London: Gale Research, 1997.
Arthur D. Mortimore, Index to characters in children's literature. Bristol: Mortimore, 1977.


Alan Horne, The Dictionary of 20th century British book illustrators. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1994.
Simon Houfe, The Dictionary of 19th century British book illustrators and caricaturists. Rev. ed. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1996.
Brigid Peppin and Lucy Micklethwait, Dictionary of British book illustrators: the twentieth-century. London: John Murray, 1983.
Joyce I. Whalley and Tessa R. Chester, A History of children's books illustration. London: John Murray with the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1988.


For information about bookshops, organisations and periodicals (for example) which was previously found in The Children's book handbook see the Booktrusted website (follow the link to 'Information').
The Encyclopaedia of school stories. Edited by Rosemary Aucmuty and Joy Wotton. 2 vols. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000.
Vol. 1: The Encyclopaedia of girls' school stories. Sue Sims and Hilary Clare.
Vol. 2: The Encyclopaedia of boys' school stories. Robert J. Kirkpatrick.
Elizabeth James and Helen R. Smith, Penny dreadfuls and boys' adventures: the Barry Ono Collection of Victorian popular fiction in the British Library. London: British Library, 1998.
HLR823.8 & RAR 823.8

See also the webpages covering the Barry Ono Collection of Penny Dreadfuls

Jennifer Madden and Margaret Hobson, Children's fiction index. 7th ed. Newcastle-under-Lyme: AAL Publishing, 1993. (Previous editions on closed access, first four as Junior fiction index).
Helen Morris, The New where's that poem: an index of poems for children. 4th ed. 1992. Repr. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes, 1994.
The Oxford companion to fairy tales. Edited by Jack Zipes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
HLR 398.2
The Oxford dictionary of nursery rhymes. New ed. Edited by Iona and Peter Opie. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Susan Roman, Sequences: an annotated guide to children's fiction in series. Chicago: American Library Association, 1985.
Margaret Woodcock, Children's sequel. [9th ed]. [London]: Career Development Group, 1999.
HLR 808.83