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The purpose of this page is to aid in obtaining biographical information about authors, past and present. Information includes print resources, websites, databases and links to other Internet Public Library pages. It is intended to give you starting points in your search to find more about your author's life, works or current contact information.
Finding biographical information on authors can be either very easy or frustratingly difficult. While much is written about the very famous, locating a biography on a less famous author can be challenging. Finding anything on the obscure or new writer can be as difficult as solving a murder mystery. Unless you absolutely know otherwise, the best initial strategy to take is to assume your author is famous enough to be found without too much difficulty.
Reference BooksPlease note that all print volumes will have the Dewey Decimal (D) and Library of Congress (LC) call numbers cited.
Contemporary Authors - D: 809.04 Co ; LC: Z1224 .C77 - Publisher: Detroit, MI, Gale Research Co.
Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography - D: R 810.9 Co ; LC: PS 129 .C66 - Publisher: Detroit, MI, Gale Research Co.
The Dictionary of Literary Biography - D: 828 Br ; LC: Z1224 .C77 - Publisher: Detroit, MI, Gale Research Co.
Something About the Author - D: 028.5 So ; LC: PN 451 .S68 - Publisher: Detroit, MI, Gale Research Co.
Index to Literary Biography, by Patricia Pate Havlice - D: R 809 Ha; LC: Z6511 .H39 - Publisher: Metuchen, N.J., Scarecrow Press, 1983
Authors Critical and Biographical References, 2nd Ed., by Richard E. Combs and Nancy R. Owens - D: R 809 Co; LC: Z6511 .C66 - Publisher: Metuchen, N.J., Scarecrow Press, 1993
Fantasy and Horror, Neil Barron, Ed. - D: R 809.387 Fa; LC: Z6514 .F35 F351 - Publisher: Lanham, Maryland, Scarecrow Press, 1999
Further Searching in Books
Your library may own other books or materials on author biography. Check with library staff for assistance. Check the shelves around the call numbers listed for the references above. If your library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification, you can look for these books and others like them at the following numbers:
928 Persons in literature
920 General biography (often author biographies can be found in collections that cover persons from all occupations)
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More and more author biographies are appearing on the Internet. Most of the information is not compiled by a single person or organization; instead each author's page tends to be written by someone different, so the information available can vary tremendously from author to author. Coverage is still fairly erratic. Some but certainly not all "famous" authors can be found. The Internet holds great potential as a resource on very new authors as both publishers and authors begin to use this medium to promote books by beginning authors.
Subscription databases are electronic but cannot be accessed freely from the Internet. Most libraries provide free access for patrons to at least some databases, so make sure you ask at your local library which ones, if any, are available to you and what forms of access you have. The following list contains just a brief selection of databases that might be useful for finding author biographies. Ask your librarians for recommendations of additional sources you might be able to use.
Gale's Literary Index
This index lets you search it by author or by title. Using this index can save you from having to look through tons of reference books at your library, since you'll know exactly what books (and what page numbers) will be helpful to you. All of the Gale Research reference books listed above are available through this service and it may contain more updated listings.
Biography and Genealogy Master Index
Per the Gale Group, this database is a first stop index tool for learning where to look for biographical material on people from all time periods, geographical locations and fields of endeavor. It acts as an index to other indexes.
IngentaA comprehensive collection of academic and professional publications available for online, fax and Ariel delivery. This site has a good search engine to find magazine articles.
You'll need to visit your local library to access this database but it may be worth the trouble if none of these other options works. It has a very powerful search engine and results in biographies, photos and a complete listing of author's works.
This unique reference search engine allows the user to search the full text of several reference books, including a number of biographical dictionaries and literary encyclopedias. Not every author will be listed, and some of the biographies are brief, though.
Free WebsitesAuthors Calendar - Index to Authors - http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/indeksi.htm
An extensive collection of biographies compiled by a public library in Finland (in English).
Author Yellow Pages - http://www.authoryellowpages.com
The Author Guru Is In - http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/4617/authormail.html
Kid's Authors - http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/4617/agkidspage.html
Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/recent-interviews/4106-0030401-296324
Biography.com - http://www.biography.com/
DMOZ - The Open Directory Project - http://dmoz.org/Arts/Literature/Authors/
This huge database is staffed by volunteer editors and is open for anyone to add a link. Therefore the information found may not be as scholarly as some of the other options on this page but makes up for this with volume. There were 11,470 links under this category when this link was added.
Google - http://directory.google.com/Top/Arts/Literature/
Nobel Prize Internet Archive - http://www.almaz.com/
If none of these links are helpful, try searching the web with search engines like Google (http://www.google.com/) or Alta Vista (http://www.altavista.com/), or search another direction like Yahoo! (http://www.yahoo.com/). Input the author's name and see if they have their own website.
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More tips for locating elusive authors
So you've checked all the resources listed above and still have nothing. What next?
Related IPL ReferencesThe Internet Public Library has many references that may be helpful in your search for author biographies.
Authors - http://www.ipl.org/div/subject/browse/hum60.10.00/
Authors Biographies - http://www.ipl.org/div/subject/browse/ref15.06.00/
Online Literary Criticism Pathfinder - http://www.ipl.org/div/pf/entry/48496
Literary Criticism Special Collection - http://www.ipl.org/div/litcrit/
Online Literary Criticism Guide - http://www.ipl.org/div/litcrit/guide.html
African American Authors - http://www.ipl.org/div/afam.html
Native American Authors - http://www.ipl.org/div/natam/
IPL Frequently Asked Reference Questions - http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/
You may not think that these are age-appropriate for you but they have some great links:
Kidspace Authors Page - http://www.ipl.org/div/kidspace/askauthor/
Teenspace Authors page - http://www.ipl.org/div/teen/browse/bw1000/
This pathfinder created by Christine Johnson and revised by Barbara Scanlon in 2004.
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