English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees or Ted Hofmann

British literature and history from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, with an emphasis on poetry, fiction, and drama.

We usually have a selection of literary works from the STC and Wing period (i.e. before 1701), and a broad range of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century fiction and poetry, particularly the Romantics. We also have a selection of historical manuscripts, prints and broadsides, and works in translation.

Among important works which have passed through our hands are the editor's presentation copy of Milton's Lycidas, Swift's Modest Proposal, the autograph draft of Byron's She walks in beauty, the autograph manuscript of Jane Austen's only play Sir Charles Grandison, Dickens’s copy of Vanity Fair, Trollope's classical library, and, over the years, some fifty Shakespeare First Folios.

  1. LUCIAN, of Samosata.

    Deorum dialogi... una cum interpretatione e regione latina nusquam antea impressi...

    Strassbourg, Johannes Schott, 1515.

    First edition edited and translated by the German humanist (and musician) Ottmar Nachtgall.

    £2100

  2. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    Momus [or De principe].

    Rome, Jacopo Mazochi, 1520.

    First edition of this political and social satire by the great Renaissance architect, theorist, scholar and man of letters, Leon Battista Alberti. There were two editions published in Rome in 1520, one (the present) by Jacopo Mazochi, the other by Étienne Guillery. Both carry papal privileges,...

    £4600

  3. (a). GOULET, Robert.

    Compendium recenter editum de multiplici Parisiensis Universitatis magnificentia, dignitate, et excellentia,...

    Paris, Toussaint Denis, 1517.

    First edition of the first account of the University of Paris, ‘probably the earliest monograph on any university’ – E. P. Goldschmidt.

    £12500

  4. PSEUDO-HEGESIPPUS.

    De rebus a Iudaeoru[m] principibus in obsidione fortiter gestis, deq[ue] excidio Hierosolymorum, aliarumq[ue]...

    Cologne, Jaspar Gennepaeus, 1544.

    An early edition of this popular Latin account of the Jewish War of 66-73 AD, with a dedication by Philipp Melanchthon. The text borrows heavily from the Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, and is attributed in extant manuscripts either to Hegesippus –...

    £650

  5. VERGIL, Polydore.

    Anglicae historiae libri vigintisex.

    Basel, Michael Isingrin, 1546.

    Second edition, much revised, of Vergil’s English History, dedicated to Henry VIII. It is seen as the beginning of modern English historiography, as an important piece of propaganda for the Tudor monarchy, and as an influence on Shakespeare’s history plays.

    £4400

  6. AEMYLIUS, Paulus (Paolo EMILIO).

    Historici clarissimi de rebus gestis Francorum…

    Paris, Michel Vascosan, 1550.

    Early editions of the three classical complementary chronicles of France from the fifth to the mid-sixteenth century, often issued and bound together.

    £750

  7. RAMUS, Petrus.

    Rhetoricae Destinctiones in Quintilianum. Parisiis, ex typographia Matthaei Davidis, 1550.

    Paris, 1550.

    1. Third edition. "This is Ramus' commentary on the twelve books of Quintilian's Institutiones oratoriae later combined with Brutus' Problems to form the Lectures on Rethoric" (Ong p. 147).

    £800

  8. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    El Momo. La moral e muy graciosa historia del Momo; compuesta en Latin por el docto varon Leon Bapista...

    Alcalá de Henares, Joan Mey Flandro, 1553.

    First edition in Spanish of Alberti’s Momus [or De principe], translated by Augustín de Almaçan and with an introductory 8 pp. Exposición by the Toledo ascetic writer and scholar Alejo Venegas (1495?–1554?).

    £3800

  9. RAMUS, Petrus.

    P. Rami ... Oratio de legatione.

    Paris, Andreas Wechel, 1557.

    First (?) edition: a fascinating pamphlet marking a critical epoch in the history of the University of Paris and the first occasion on which Ramus came into prominence as champion of his University and of higher education in general.

    £800

  10. RAMUS, Petrus.

    Harangue ... touchant ce qu'ont faict les deputez de l’Université de Paris envers le Roy. Mise de Latin en Francois.

    Paris, Andreas Wechel, 1557.

    First French-language edition of the above, issued simultaneously with the Latin text and presumably translated by Ramus himself. Apart from La Dialectique, this is one of Ramus’ very few works in the vernacular. Very rare.

    £950

  11. STRAPAROLA, Giovanfrancesco.

    Le Piacevoli Notti di messer Giovanfrancesco Straparola da Caravaggio.

    Venice, Domenico Giglio, 1558.

    An early edition of both volumes of Straparola’s Facetious Nights.

    £3250

  12. RAMUS, Petrus. (Commentator) - VIRGILIUS MARO, Publius.

    Georgica, P. Rami professoris regii praelectionibus illustrata, ad Carolum...

    Paris, 1564.

    Second editions of Ramus' extensive commentaries on Virgil's two poems on country life, which he wrote in order to react against the dry doctrines of several French schools who based their teaching of nature on Aristotle's physics. He wanted to keep in contact with the concrete realities of nature and...

    £2000

  13. GASCOIGNE, George.

    The Droomme of Doomes Day. Wherein the Frailties and Miseries of Mans Lyfe are lyvely portrayed and learnedly...

    London, 1576-9.

    First editions, both very rare. George Gascoigne published The Droomme of Doomes Day in May 1576, the last major work from an enormously prolific period since February 1575 that saw the publication of Posies, A Glasse of Government, the Noble Art of Venerie, and A...

    £22500

  14. FULKE, William.

    A Sermon preached at Hampton Court, on Sonday being the 12. Day of November, in the Yeare of our Lord. 1570. Wherein...

    Imprinted at London by John Charlewod (sic). 1579.

    An important anti-Catholic sermon delivered at court, arguing that Rome is the Babylon of Revelations and the Pope is the Antichrist; it was first published in 1570 and several times reprinted. Fulke supports his argument with Scripture, early church fathers, numerology (‘Lateinos’ = 666),...

    £1100

  15. PARADIN, Guillaume.

    Gulielmi Paradini Anchemani Epigrammata ...

    Lyons, Ant. Gryphius, 1581.

    First and only edition of this French historian’s poetry including verses about or addressed to Ronsard, Pontus de Tyard, Claude Rouillet, and the Lyons printers Sébastien and Antoine Gryphe, and Jean de Tournes.

    £950

  16. HERODIAN and ZOSIMUS.

    ΗΡΩΔΙΑΝΟΥ ΙΣΤΩΡΙΑΝΟΥ ΒΙΒΛΙΑ Η. Herodiani Histor. Lib. VIII. Cum Angeli Politiani...

    [Geneva]. Excudebat Henricus Stephanus Anno 1581.

    First edition thus, dedicated to Philip Sidney (1554-1586), who even at this date was beginning to achieve mythic status as the hope of Protestant Europe – a community for which Henri Estienne, a Huguenot exile in Geneva, was defiantly catering. Estienne had met Sidney at Heidelberg in 1573, and they...

    £1500

  17. OCLAND, Christopher.

    Anglorum praelia, ab Anno Domini. 1327. anno nimirum primo inclytissimi Principis Eduardi eius nominis tertii,...

    London, Henry Bynneman for Ralph Newbery, 1582.

    First published in 1580, this is one of three closely similar 1582 editions of Ocland’s Anglorum proelia which add two works at the end: Ocland’s Eirēnarchia (a continuation of Anglorum proelia first published in 1582) and Alexander Neville’s account of the 1549 Norfolk rising, De furoribus Norfolciensium...

    £1200

  18. [BOUCHER, Jean].

    Apologie pour Iehan Chastel Parisien, execute a mort, et pour les peres & escholliers, de la Societé de Iesus,...

    [Paris?], 1595.

    First edition of Boucher’s pseudonymous apology for Jean Châtel’s attempted assassination of Henri IV, described by the author as an ‘acte heroique’. Boucher (1548-1644) was prior and rector of the Sorbonne and an active member of the Catholic League who openly incited violent revolt against...

    £600

  19. CHAUCER, Geoffrey.

    The Workes of our ancient and learned English Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, newly printed. To that which was done...

    London, Printed by Adam Islip. An. Dom. 1602.

    Second Thomas Speght edition (sixth collected edition), revised much for the better by Francis Thynne; this is the variant with Adam Islip rather than George Bishop in the imprint. The portrait of Chaucer, which first appeared in the Speght edition of 1598, is the first engraved representation of the poet.

    £6000

  20. FLETCHER, Giles, the younger.

    Christs Victorie, and Triumph in Heaven, and Earth, over, and after Death …

    Cambridge, Printed by C. Legge. 1610.

    First edition of an important poem, a ‘worthy link’ in the chain which connects Fletcher’s great master, Spenser, with his great successor, Milton (Hugh de Selincourt, CHEL). This is the first state, with a fleur-de-lis device on the title-pages – three copies are known with the title-pages reset...

    £3500