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Literature in English 1350-1550: Primary Texts Online

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You can search for scholarly e-book editions (eg Oxford Scholarly Editions) via SOLO or by browsing the platform directly

Search for online resources via Databases A-Z:

For access to the majority of resources covered in this guide, go to the English section of the subject list on Databases A-ZYou will also find useful resources in the LinguisticsNewspapers, and History sections.

Manuscripts: digital facsimiles

British Literary Manuscripts: Medieval & Renaissance presents facsimile images of a range of literary manuscripts — including letters, poems, stories, plays, chronicles, religious writings, and other materials — from roughly 1120 to 1660. Consisting primarily of works in Middle and Early Modern English, British Literary Manuscripts Online: Medieval and Renaissance provides online access to the original manuscripts of seminal literary, religious, and philosophical texts and trace the prevailing social and cultural attitudes of the times through important historical documents like the letters of Alcuin and Lanfranc and the chronicles of Waverly, Glastonbury, St Martin’s, and Lichfield.

Digital Bodleian gathers together over 650,000 freely available digital objects under a single user interface which supports fast user-friendly viewing of high resolution images.


Parker Library on the Web is an interactive, web-based workspace designed to support the use and study of over 500 MSS in the historic Parker Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. The Library's holdings of Old English texts account for a substantial proportion of all extant MSS in Anglo-Saxon,including the earliest copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 890) and unique copies of Old English poems. The project aimed to produce a high-resolution digital copy of every imageable page of most of the manuscripts. To provide a viewing environment for the images, an interactive web application was built which allows use by scholars and students in the context of supporting descriptive material and bibliography.

The Malory Project is an electronic edition and commentary of Malory's Morte Darthur (1469-70), with digital facsimiles of the Winchester Manuscript (British Library, Add. MS 59678) and John Rylands Copy of Caxton's first edition. Stage One of the project is focused on the Roman War Episode and Caxton's Book V, which have been the main focus for editors of the Morte Darthur since the re-discovery of the manuscript in 1934.

The following libraries also have some digitised collections;

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis - University of Pennsylvania Libraries

University of Manchester

Trinity College, Cambridge 

Online texts

TEAMS Middle English texts series makes available texts which occupy an important place in the literary and cultural canon but which have not been readily available in student editions. The focus is upon literature adjacent to works by major authors such as Chaucer or Malory. The editions maintain the linguistic integrity of the original works but within the parameters of modern reading conventions.


Drama Online provides access to the searchable full-text of over 1000 plays drawn from the Methuen Drama, Arden Shakespeare and Faber lists, as well as 350 plays from Nick Hern Books, to form a collection of the most studied, performed and critically acclaimed plays from Aeschylus to the present day. Over 100 critical and contextual works are also included, as well as biographical and bibliographical information for each playwright. The collection will be regularly updated with the latest works from new and established writers. 

NB Oxford does not have access to all video content on Drama Online

The Piers Plowman Electronic Archive, a collaborative open-access project, presents the rich textual tradition of Piers Plowman, a fourteenth-century allegorical dream vision attributed to William Langland. Three distinct versions of the poem (A, B, and C) survive in more than 50 unique manuscripts, none in Langland's own hand. The Archive enables instructors, students, and researchers to explore late medieval literary and manuscript culture through the many variations of Piers Plowman. The long-term goal of the project is the creation of a complete archive of the medieval and early modern textual tradition of Langland's poem.

Corpus de la Litterature Medievale is a  collection of around 900 works of medieval literature from the early period through to the end of the 15th century covering: fiction, chanson de geste, poetry and theatre (religious and secular). The collection includes editions published by Champion, Droz and the Société des anciens textes français.

The Database of Middle English Romance seeks to make this rich body of literature more readily accessible to the modern reader, both academic and lay. Key information, including (where known) date and place of composition, verse form, authorship and sources, extant manuscripts and early modern prints, is provided for each romance, as is a full list of modern editions, and a plot summary designed to allow readers to negotiate more easily the extraordinary diversity of the genre. There are direct links to all of the modern editions that are available online. The database is searchable by manuscript, by a set of fifty 'key words' (representing common motifs and topics found in more than one romance), by verse form, and by plot summary.

English Poetry contains over 183,000 poems. Essentially comprising the complete canon of English poetry of the British Isles and the British Empire from the 8th century to the early 20th, its works are drawn from nearly 4,900 printed sources and represent more than 2,700 poets. You can also search through the English Poetry database through Literature Online.

Early printed material: digital facsimile

Early English Books Online (EEBO) features page images of almost every work printed in the British Isles and North America, as well as works in English printed elsewhere from 1470-1700. Over 200 libraries worldwide have contributed to EEBO. From the first book printed in English through to the ages of Spenser, Shakespeare and of the English Civil War, EEBO's content draws on authoritative and respected short-title catalogues of the period.

Beginning with the very first book published in English, EEBO draws from four authoritative bibliographical resources – both Pollard & Redgrave’s Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640) and Wing’s Short-Title Catalogue (1641-1700) in their revised versions, as well as the Thomason Tracts (1640-1661) and the Early English Books Tract Supplement – to present more than 146,000 titles and over 17 million scanned pages of content.