In spring, 2011, I compared biographical information for literary authors writing in English among the following sources:
Biography Reference Bank (H. W. Wilson)
Literature Resource Center (Cengage/Gale) with particular focus on Contemporary Authors Online
Web sources other than Wikipedia (retrieved through the Google search engine)
My goal was to determine what types of biographical information are provided by these sources, the differences among them, and the challenges in identifying accurate, valid biographical information.
To conduct searches, I compiled author names that are studied or referenced in English literature courses and am grateful for the suggestions of names provided by librarian colleagues from the Literatures in English Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries. I included a wide variety of literary authors writing in English from the traditional to the avant-garde, from the known to the lesser known, from the mainstream to the esoteric, and from multiple genres and ethnicities.
The list of 500 names is given in sections on separate pages and listed alphabetically by surname. Once again, to those who suggested names to me, thank you. I concluded that 500 names is sufficiently representative. It includes men and women, and authors who write in the wide range of genres students are studying in our universities today. The focus is primarily on 20th and 21st century authors, based on the rationale that if libraries do not have online commercial databases covering retrospective authors, they usually have back volumes of print editions. A few authors from earlier centuries have been included, however, in order to give some perspective to the findings of more modern authors.
The paper based on my findings is forthcoming in New Library World. When it appears, the bibliographic information will be provided here.