Literature Department

1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
215-686-5402

Open today until 5:00 p.m.

Sunday 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Monday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Upcoming Closures

  • Wed., Dec. 25 : Closed Christmas Day
  • Wed., Jan. 1 : Closed New Year's Day
  • Mon., Jan. 20 : Closed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Mon., Feb. 17 : Closed Presidents' Day
  • Fri., Apr. 10 : Closed Good Friday
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Upcoming Events

Shakespeare in the World: Shakespeare and the Violated Body

Wed, Jan 22, 6:00 P.M.

Lecture is in room 406. Carol Chillington Rutter suggests that while bodies in texts may disappear, “Material bodies in the theatre remain…

Monday Poets | Octavia McBride-Ahebee & Sekai'afua Zankel

Mon, Feb 10, 6:30 P.M.

Octavia McBride-Ahebee’s work presents human relationships within the context of global inequality. Her poetry collections include Assuming…

Monday Poets | David Ebenbach & Shane McCrae

Mon, Mar 2, 6:30 P.M.

Cost: FREE

David Ebenbach is the author of the poetry collections Some Unimaginable Animal (2019), and We Were the People Who Moved (2015). His other books…

Shakespeare in the World Lecture Series: Love and Conflict in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Wed, Mar 25, 6:00 P.M.

Lecture will be in room 406. There is an Internet meme that suggests that Romeo and Juliet is not a love story but rather a brief relationship…

Monday Poets | Nausheen Eusuf & Elizabeth Scanlon

Wed, Apr 1, 6:30 P.M.

Cost: FREE

Nausheen Eusuf is a PhD candidate in English at Boston University and a graduate of the writing seminars at John Hopkins University. Her poetry…

Monday Poets | Eleanor Wilner & Ellen Bass

Mon, May 4, 6:30 P.M.

Cost: FREE

Eleanor Wilner’s books of poetry include maya (1979), Shekhinah (1984), Sarah’s Choice (1989), Otherwise (1993), Reversing the Spell:…

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The Literature Department is located with the Art Department in Pepper Hall, 2nd floor, Parkway Central, and houses over 60,000 books of American, English and World Literature. Our collection includes:

  • Poetry, plays, essays, humor, folklore, letters and author biographies
  • Criticism of American, English and World Literature, including criticism of novels and short stories
  • Writing and citation guidebooks
  • Books on movies, theater, journalism and media studies
  • Linguistics and books about the English language
  • ESL and foreign language learning books and CDs

Please note novels and short stories in English and foreign languages are found in Philbrick Hall on the first floor.

Some highlights of the Literature Department’s collection:

The 23-volume Oxford English Dictionary with the four-volume Additions series, invaluable for tracing the etymology and history of English words, is on reference in our Dictionary section.

For anyone one doing 19th century research, we own Poole’s Index to Periodical Literature (1802-1881) and Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals (1824-1990).  The full-text of most of the citations listed is available on microfilm.

The Ottemiller Collection, which includes reference copies of significant, English-language plays from 1900-1985.

A large, in-depth collection of works by and about Shakespeare, some of which circulate and some of which are Reference. The collection includes original copies of Howard Henry Furness’s Variorum, and many 18th and 19th century American and English imprints of Shakespeare’s works (in remote storage).  To request any of these items please ask for assistance at the reference desk as they are located in our regional offsite center also known as ROC.

In addition please take a look at our listing of additional electronic resources located here.

Teacher resources

Are you an educator interested in bringing a class to the Literature Department? You may contact us in advance by emailing ErefLit@freelibrary.org and let us know what kinds of library materials would best support your course and we will work with you to help you gather books and other materials on a given subject. 

Booklists created for your pleasure!

https://know.freelibrary.org/Community/users/Literature/