This reference book was published in 1991 by Harper Collins Publishers. It is a hardcover, sturdy binding print source that costs approximately $50. Typical questions that may lead to use of this book include “Where can I find general information about Nathaniel Hawthrone?” and “What is Hearth and Home?” It covers American literature of all time periods.

This book is best suited for the high school and older bracket. It would most likely be used for reports in school, and for a general overview. It is also used for personal knowledge, but unless you are a literature buff you’re not going to find it of much interest beyond looking up what’s needed for a report.

The purpose of the book is to give the facts on the American author’s life in biographical entries that deal with both that author’s major and lesser works, summarizes the critical consensus, and often lists secondary biographical and critical works.

The book starts with a preface, a notes page, then a list of contributors before going into the encyclopedia that encompasses the rest of the volume. Since the work is so straightforward and easy to use, there is no glossary, table of contents, or index. Everything is explained within the encyclopedia articles themselves. The book is easy to use. It is in alphabetical order. Jus know the author, work, or term and find it. It is straightforward and user friendly.