Course Book FAQs

What is the difference between the available formats of The Norton Anthology of English Literature?

The 9th edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature is packaged in a number of ways and this can be somewhat confusing. It comes in:

  1. In two large volumes which Norton calls 1 and 2.
  2. In six volumes which Norton calls A-F.
  3. In two packages of three volumes, A-C and D-F. Package 1, ISBN 978-0-393-91300-2. Package 2, ISBN 978-0-393-91301-9.


All of these formats have identical texts and page numbers so you can use any of them. What are the differences between them?

  • Volumes 1 and 2 are 6cm thick and are very heavy to carry around;
  • Buying each of the six volumes separately is much more expensive, but might be a good idea for visiting students only taking one course;
  • The two package version is the most convenient for students taking the full English BA course and is pictured here.

Note: There is a revised version of the 9th edition of the anthology available. It does not matter whether you use this one or not. Any 9th edition will do.

Norton package 1Norton Package 2

Where can I find out what books I must buy?

These are listed in the OCASYS entry for the course. Do not rely on students who took the course before you or the lists held by shops as they do not have the most up-to-date information. It is common for students to buy the wrong book by accident so be careful. For my courses the only books listed in OCASYS are ones to which you need long-term access so you should acquire a copy for yourself. Not having a course book because it was sold out etc. is not an acceptable excuse for not being prepared for tutorials or assessment. If you learn that a book has gone out of print, please let me know immediately.

Does it matter which edition of a book I get?

Yes, it can matter a lot. If you are buying an anthology, for example, don’t just presume that last year’s one will do. When anthologies change editions the course content changes. Don’t buy an anthology without checking that it is the one listed in OCASYS or you may not have all the texts you need. Works such as Norton’s anthologies have been around for years and have gone through 9+ editions.

If a specific edition of a book is given in my OCASYS entries you should buy that as it must have a significant advantage that other editions do not possess (I don’t just choose these because they are copies I have). The BA and MA subpages sometimes have further information about course books.

If no edition is specified, any unabridged version of the text is fine. Eighteenth and nineteenth century texts are often available in cheap paperbacks costing a few Euros or can be freely downloaded for e-readers. You might still wish to invest in a more expensive copy if it had good notes.

Will I be able to get the course books in the library?

The library keeps one copy of the books listed in OCASYS. Sometimes there are extra copies you can borrow, although this is usually difficult if a lot of other people want them at the same time. Not having a course book because it was on loan is not an acceptable excuse for not being prepared for tutorials or assessment.

When can I sell my course books?

Check the OCASYS entries for future courses you think you might take as the department tries to reuse the more expensive texts where possible. You should keep books such as The Wadsworth Handbook and Peter Barry’s Beginning Theory as these will be useful throughout your degree.

The Plantin-Moretus Printing Museum in Antwerp