Materials date from, or are concerned with, the period from the beginnings of the language and literature in the Anglo-Saxon period to the present. Emphasis is on the major periods and writers from the 14th through the 21st centuries.
Primary emphasis is on the language and literature and related criticism of England, Ireland, Scotland, and the United States. English language literature from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the West Indies are of secondary interest and collected selectively. Other geographic areas, not major producers of English scholarship, are also collected selectively.
Primary and secondary works are in English, historical forms of the English language and very selectively, the Celtic languages. Secondary materials in other languages are in the collection but currently purchased on a very selective basis.
Electronic and print monographs, serials, facsimiles, as well as microforms are included in the collection. Currently, few primary works are purchased in electronic format. Sound recordings/DVDs of spoken forms of literature are purchased selectively, as are biographical works on authors.
Literature of a purely popular nature (fantasy fiction, mysteries, romance fiction), workbooks, non-UW dissertations, and anthologies of primary works containing material already in the collection, are generally not collected. Textbooks are not collected unless a particular text is useful for the study of theory of composition and rhetoric.