A friend just wrote to ask if there were any lists of authors, "you know, like allmusic does for music?"
Why, yes, Friend, there is! Only it's not on the free web, it's ... in your library. Friend has many library cards in the DC metro area, but I focused on resources available to him at the *awesome* Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL). Here's what I wrote him:
Take a look at MCPL "Books and Literature" page to see all the library databases you can search with your library card.
I especially recommend the Literary Resource Center. Type in the name of any of your authors & you'll get TONS of information in separate tabs -- biographies, literary criticism, bibliographies, "additional resources", and timeline.
Start with the biographical info, and look for links to an encyclopedia called Contemporary Authors or Contemporary Literary Criticism. For Eudora Welty, you'll see
- Biographical Information
- Major Works
- Critical Reception
- Principal Writings by the Author
- Further Readings about the Author
- Critical Essays about the Author's Works
The first few sections will give you a nice overview and ideas of what to start with.
You might also want to check out Books in Print -- which is Amazon on steroids, but without the personal entries. You'll find all sorts of books there as well as reviews from Library Journal, Choice (an academic library review service) and Publisher's Weekly.
A very cool tool is called Fiction Connection, provided to the library by Books in Print -- or you can click directly on the link to Fiction Connection in the Montgomery County list o' "books & literature" databases.
You can browse "tag clouds" of genres (there's even one for southern fiction, tho' I think it's more current than Faulkner et al), topic, setting, location, and time period. It looks really really cool.