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University of York Library
Subject Guides

English & Related Literature

Renaissance Literature

Welcome to your online guide to finding resources for English and Related Literature.
Book of hours Chandos portrait of Shakespeare Jonathan Swift Oscar Wilde Toni Morrison Kincaid Richard II and Henry IV
Medieval  Renaissance Eighteenth Century Nineteenth Century Twentieth Century - Current Global and Postcolonial
Yorkshire Connections to Literature
You are on the Renaissance page. Follow the links above to see the literature collections grouped by Period and Place.

Primary Sources - Online Resources

Primary Sources - Microfilms

  • Athenian Gazette or, Casuistical Mercury: resolving all the most nice and curious questions proposed by the ingenious. Vols. I-XX. 1690-1697
    This periodical was edited by John Dunton and is an example of a magazine which specialised in summarising learned publications, especially from the continent, to give "satisfaction to all such persons as have neither time nor opportunity to enquire of such things." It also functioned as a forerunner to such useful periodicals as Notes and queries. Readers could send in enquiries on a variety of topics and the editorial staff, in practice, John Dunton, would endeavour to answer them
  • This is an attempt to reconstruct the lives of individuals from surviving documents. It also provides detailed background on the village, the project, and documents. The material includes church records, state records and estate records.
  • Sex and sexuality, 1640-1940: literary, medical and sociological perspectives.
    Sex and Sexuality seeks to make available a broad range of rare printed texts describing changing attitudes towards sex and the body.
  • The Tanner manuscripts: church, state and politics in England 1550-1700.
  • Medical works on the body, sex, and venereal diseases
  • Writings on sexual habits, such as Bienville's Nymphomania (1775) and accounts of James Graham's 'celestial bed' through which electrical currents were passed in order to give couples 'superior ecstasy'
  • Works on masturbation from Onania (1729) to Tissot's A Treatise on the Crime of Onan (1766).
    • Includes a group of ecclesiastical papers from the fifteenth to the 18th centuries. Many papers deal with the procedures, powers and abuses of the ecclesiastical and episcopal courts. Among other ecclesiastical and religious material are documents on the Marian Martyrs, Speeches on the Act of Uniformity of 1559, debate on the infallibility of the Catholic Church and Sabbatarianism and discussions of titles, probate and the powers of the episcopacy.

Primary Sources - Library print collection

  • Camden Society Series
    This series comprises of 325 volumes in 5 series.
    The volumes are kept in the following locations in the JBM and RBL Libraries:
    Old Series, Vol. 1 (1837)-v.104 (1871) = RBL Special Collections.
    New Series, Vol. 1 (1871) – v.61 (1899), = Q journal section in the JBM Library.
    Third Series, Vol. 1 (1900) – v. 94 (1963) = Q journal section in the JBM Library.
    Fourth Series, Vol. 1-44(1964-1992) = Q journal section in the JBM Library.
    Fifth Series, Vol.1 (1993) - onwards = Q journal section in the JBM Library.
    The volumes of the Camden Society Series which are shelved in the journal section of 'Q' can be borrowed as an ordinary loan items.
    The Old, New and Third series are shelved under 'Camden'. The Fourth and Fifth series are shelved under 'Royal Historical Society'.
    All the titles can be searched for individually using the library catalogue.

Secondary Sources - Databases & Indexes

Secondary Sources - Journals

     Cahiers Elisabethains              Renaissance Studies                          Milton Quarterly           


  • Cahiers Elisabethains
    Subjects have ranged from Chaucer to Restoration drama and beyond. The literature and drama of the Elizabethan period is, however, the focal point of interest.
  • Early Modern Literary Studies
    Examines English literature, literary culture, and language during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  • English Literary Renaissance
    Devoted to current criticism and scholarship of Tudor and early Stuart English literature, 1485-1665, including Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne, and Milton. It is unique in featuring the publication of rare texts and newly discovered manuscripts of the period and current annotated bibliographies of work in the field.
  • Exemplaria; a Journal of Theory in Medieval & Renaissance Studies
    Providing a forum for different terminologies and different approaches, it has included symposia and special issues on teaching Chaucer, women, history and literature, rhetoric, medieval noise, and Jewish medieval studies and literary theory.
  • Milton Quarterly
    Publishes in-depth articles, review essays, and shorter notes and notices about Milton's works, career, literary surroundings, and place in cultural history.
  • Milton Studies
    Focuses on various aspects of John Milton’s life and writing, including biography; literary history; Milton’s work in its literary, intellectual, political, or cultural contexts; Milton’s influence on or relationship to other writers; and the history of critical response to his workhistory.
  • Renaissance Forum
    Aims to provide an electronic forum for scholarly work in early-modern English literacy and historical scholarship and in the critical methodologies of these fields.
  • Renaissance News
    Information about the Renaissance Society of America's activities and projects, including its research grants, prizes, and annual conference.
  • Renaissance Studies
    Renaissance Studies publishes articles and editions of documents on all aspects of Renaissance history and culture. The articles range over the history, art, architecture, religion, literature, and languages of Europe during the period.
  • Renaissance Quarterly
    Articles and reviews are written by authorities in the respective disciplines of history, literature, art, philosophy, music and other areas of study.
  • Shakespeare Quarterly
  • Shakespeare Studies
  • Shakespeare Survey


Primary Sources - Special Collections

Mirfield Collection
Contains much valuable early material. All the pre-1800 books, plus a few sets of the publications of historical record societies, such as the Royal Historical Society, and the Surtees Society, were deposited here on permanent loan in 1973.
There are several incunabula, including an edition of St. Augustine's De civitate Dei, printed by Nicolas Jenson in Venice, 1475. Although the books are predominantly theological, there are many interesting works in other subjects: for example, the first collected edition of the works of Sir Philip Sidney (1598)

Minster Library

The Library holds the extensive historic printed collections of the Dean and Chapter of York, as well as a modern reference and lending library.

The library holds more than 120,000 books. Collection strengths include

  • local history
  • early York printing
  • Civil War tracts
  • theology through the ages
  • church history and architecture

Modern books include theology, church history and the history of the Minster and city.

  • To search for books at the Minster Library, do an Advanced Search on YorSearch and change the Search Scope to York Minster Library