Writing about an author's novel, play, or poem, but not familiar with her time period or oeuvre?
A bio-bibliographical essay will provide you with the needed context and insight--and possibly some leads on a topic or approach for your research!
Use bio-bibliographical sources to learn about a particular author's life, times, and works. They offer not just biographical facts but critical assessment and context.
Find critical essays on particular authors and their works in one place. The essays in the sources listed here provide history and context for the critical landscape, as well as provide you with excerpts or full text of criticism on particular works.
Use Gale's database Literature Criticism Online to search and get the full text of entries in these titles below:
Contemporary Literary Criticism
A dictionary or an encyclopedia? A question of terminology.
A dictionary is not just for looking up the definition of words we don't know, even though, in a sense, that is what we are doing: we are looking up the meaning of a particular literary term, concept, movement, literary work, or person. A dictionary in this sense is like an encyclopedia, arranged A-Z, but it has shorter entries, usually unsigned and lacking bibliographical references after each entry. They are meant for quicker reference. Sometimes you will find the Library of Congress calling a resource a "dictionary" when you might think of it as an "encyclopedia."