Electronic books offer numerous benefits: They're usually searchable, they can be made instantly accessible to the visually impaired, they're often free, and, perhaps best of all, they're accessible right now. This list compiles some of the best sources for finding great works of literature on the Web.
The availability of full-text online books continues to increase daily. More and more universities and other groups are transcribing famous and not-so-famous literary works including novels, poetry, children’s books, essays, short stories, and classical mythology. Many of these works are fully annotated. Electronic books offer numerous benefits: they’re usually searchable, they can be made instantly accessible to the visually impaired, they’re often free, and, perhaps best of all, they’re accessible right now. This list compiles some of the best sources for finding great works of literature on the Web.
General and subject collections
- Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project
- Read and enjoy stories, legends and myths that are considered classics for children. Bringing Yesterday’s Classics to Today’s Children.
- Classic African American Literature
- A collection of links to online texts of African American writings.
- Find a multitude of resources including multimedia, scholarly works, audio and video recordings, electronic journals and more at this virtual community-based website on a variety of topics ranging from antislavery literature to film and television.
- The Literature Network
- This site provides a searchable online collection of over 1900 full books and 3000 short stories and poems by over 250 authors. It also offers a quotations database and online literature forum.
- The New York Public Library Digital Library
- Discover hundreds of thousands of prints, photographs, maps, and text pages via searchable databases, online exhibitions, text sites, video and audio recordings, and more.
- University of Virginia — American Studies Hypertext Project
- This site contains an annotated directory of resources for American Studies and an archive of American Studies hypertext projects with the works of numerous American writers. The site also contains a set of maps relating to U.S. territorial expansion and an exhibit portraying the development of the cartographic representation of America up through the Jeffersonian Era. Additionally, there is a section on the 1930s which is an attempt to shed light on that decade and describe its importance to modern American thought and culture.
- Wright American Fiction, 1851-1875
- A collection of 19th century American fiction, as listed in Lyle Wright’s bibliography American Fiction, 1851-1875. This site attempts to include every novel published in the United States from 1851 to 1875. There are currently more than 2,885 volumes included with at least 1,450 authors listed. Works by Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville are included, along with works by many lesser-known writers.
- Internet Poetry Archive
- Text and audio recordings of seven poets including Phillip Levine, Seamus Heaney, Czeslaw Milosz, Robert Pinsky, Yusef Komunyakaa, Margaret Walker, and Richard Wilbur.
Collections of specific authors
- Digital Dante
- A collection of resources for studying Dante’s works including online texts, translations, and scholarly works. The site also includes a short biography of Dante; illustrations from The Divine Comedy; a collection of maps depicting Paradise, Inferno, and Purgatory; and a bibliography of related materials.
- Edgar Allan Poe: Tales, Sketches, and Select Criticism
- This anthology includes the full text of tales, sketches, and criticism penned by Edgar Allan Poe.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
- Find a searchable database of Longfellow’s poems and information on his works, his family, and his homes. In addition, educators will find lesson plans for kindergarten through 12th grade.
- Mark Twain Project
- This site aims to one day provide a digital critical edition, fully annotated, of everything Mark Twain wrote. The materials provided are fully searchable.
- Paul Laurence Dunbar Digital Collection
- A nearly complete collection of the Dayton, Ohio poet and novelist who is known for both his use of dialect and standard English. Dunbar was the first African American poet to become internationally renowned.
- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
- The full text of Shakespeare’s plays can be viewed online.
- The Jack London Collection
- Best known for his books The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The Sea-Wolf, Jack London wrote over fifty books of novels, stories, journalism, and essays. The Jack London Collection website from the University of California at Berkeley has many of these works digitally scanned in their entirety. The site also offers a short biography of Jack London, a bibliography and research aids, postcards, letters, and images of London.
- The Walt Whitman Archive
- Everything you always wanted to know about Walt Whitman, including photographs, manuscripts, volumes of poems, and criticism gathered from collections around the world.
- The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Ralph Waldo Emerson website with documents written by Emerson that can be copied, printed, and redistributed because they are in the public domain. The website also has links to works by other writers from the 1800s, some of Emerson’s works read aloud, a timeline, and information about books about Emerson that are available for purchasing.