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. [WARTON, Thomas, the younger].

    The Pleasures of Melancholy. A Poem …

    London: Printed for R. Dodsley … and sold by M. Cooper … 1747.

    First edition of Warton’s second publication, preceded by Five Pastoral Eclogues (1745), and written at that time, though Warton also contributed to his brother Joseph’s Odes on various Subjects (1746). The Pleasures of Melancholy was Warton’s first major poem, a meditative...

    £400

  2. WATSON, Robert Grant.

    A history of Persia from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the year 1858, with a review of the principal...

    London, Smith, Elder and Co., 1866.

    First edition. Watson, a British diplomat, writes to provide an account of the first half of the nineteenth century in Persia. Relying, as he notes, on both Persian and European accounts, he sketches the circumstances of the Qajar rise to rule in the eighteenth century, and the tumultuous events...

    £560

  3. [WATTS, John].

    The Musical Miscellany; being a Collection of choice Songs [and lyrick Poems], set to the Violin and Flute [or With...

    London: Printed by and for John Watts … 1729 [–1731]

    First edition of an influential collection of over 450 songs and ballads, published in the years of the brief flowering of English ballad opera subsequent to The Beggar’s Opera (1728). For each song, Watts prints the melody (and from volume III on a bass continuo), the lyrics, and a flute or...

    £3850

  4. WESTALL, William.

    Roy of Roy’s Court … Vol. I [-II].

    London, Ward & Downey, 1892.

    First edition of ‘this story of “battles, sieges, fortunes”’ set in France in the time of Napoleon. Westall, the son of a Lancashire cotton spinner, became Times correspondent in Geneva and a friend of the Russian revolutionaries of his day.

    £275

  5. [WESTMINSTER ELECTION.]

    A True and impartial Collection of Pieces, in Prose and Verse, which have been written and published on...

    London: Printed for W. Owen … 1749.

    First edition. A compilation of open letters to the electorate of Westminster, written during the violent 1749 election campaign. Despite the brutality which characterised the election the editor hopes the letters might be impartially considered for their merits: ‘As many smart pieces were written...

    £750

  6. [WHITE, Charles].

    The Adventures of a King’s Page. By the Author of “Almack’s Revisited.” ... In three Volumes ...

    London: Henry Colburn ... 1829.

    First edition of a witty novel by the author of Almack’s Revisited (that marvellous parvenu’s manual disguised as a satire on parvenus). The Adventures of a King’s Page has a wider scope than the social hothouse of the silver fork novel, featuring a pageant of (among others) military men, foreigners,...

    £450

  7. WHITE, Gilbert.

    A Naturalist’s Calendar, with Observations in various Branches of Natural History; extracted from the Papers...

    London: Printed for B. and J. White … 1795.

    First edition. Gilbert White, who died in 1793, had based his classic Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne on a series of yearly notebooks containing his daily observations on various walks of nature from 1768 to 1787. He had not used all his observations, however, and the series of notebooks...

    £700

  8. [WICQUET, Antoine-Marie Grillaud du, Vicomte D’Ordre].

    Precis elementaire de Morale. / Elements of Morality, or Ethics epitomized.

    Chelsea: Printed by D[ennett] Jaques, at the Neat Houses. Sold by the Author, No. 28, Robinson’s

    First edition, rare, a parallel-text guide to ethics in prose and verse, by an émigré aristocrat. A version of the text was apparently ‘first printed at Boulogne in 1789 for the use of his own children’, though no copies have survived. In any case the present edition was much expanded, adding ‘historical...

    £1350

  9. WILKINSON, Tate.

    Memoirs of his own Life … In four Volumes …

    York: Printed for the Author, by Wilson, Spence, and Mawman; and sold by G. G. J. and J. Robinson … and T. and J. Egerton … Anno 1790.

    First edition of the autobiography of the colourful actor and impresario Tate Wilkinson (1739-1803), patentee of the Theatres Royal in York, Hull and Edinburgh.

    £575

  10. WILLIAMS, Anna.

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse …

    London: Printed for T. Davies … 1766.

    First edition, scarce, of the blind poet Anna Williams’s Miscellanies, bound with the first edition of a volume of fifty Latin poems by Samuel Bishop.

    £3250

  11. WILLICH, Anthony Florian Madinger.

    Lectures on Diet and Regimen: being a systematic Inquiry into the most rational Means of preserving...

    London: Printed for T. N. Longman and O. Rees … 1799.

    Second edition, much revised and expanded, printed in the same year as the first: ‘Many important and useful articles have been added, especially in the fifth Chapter, “Of Food and Drink.”’ Willich’s very popular manual was based on a series of lecture given by the eminent physician at Bath...

    £375

  12. WILMOT, John and Wentworth DILLON.

    The Miscellaneous Works of the Right Honourable the late Earls of Rochester and Roscommon. With...

    London Printed: and sold by B. Bragge … 1707.

    First edition, oddly scarce, of the combined works of Rochester and Roscommon, prefaced by Evremont’s lively biographical account of Rochester. This collection formed the basis of most later-eighteenth-century editions (though without the second part, the miscellany of poems by others). It is the...

    £1250

  13. WISE, Francis.

    A Letter to Dr Mead concerning some Antiquities in Berkshire, particularly shewing that the White Horse, which gives...

    Oxford, Printed for Thomas Wood … 1738

    First editions. A Letter to Dr Mead was the first serious archaeological study of the Uffington White Horse. Francis Wise, Keeper of the Archives at Oxford University and later a friend of Samuel Johnson, contends that the horse, which he eulogises as a work of art, had Saxon origins, because...

    £350

  14. WISTAN, Aden.

    Lucy, Francis and Cousin Bill. A novel in three Volumes ...

    London: Eden, Remington & Co. ... 1892.

    First edition, rare. The preliminary leaves in each volume, though clearly correct, are not as called for in Wolff and the binding is more elaborate than his maroon coarse morocco cloth blocked in blind. Here there are only two preliminary leaves (half-title and title page) in each volume; Woolf, however,...

    £650

  15. WITHER, George.

    The Psalmes of David translated into Lyrick-Verse, according to the Scope, of the Original, and illustrated, with...

    [Amsterdam:] Imprinted in the Netherlands by Cornelis Gerrits van Breughel, 1632.

    First edition, dedicated to Princess Elizabeth, the ‘Winter Queen’, daughter of James I. The translation, a companion to Wither’s Hymnes and Songs of the Church, was written at the request of James, and finished shortly before his death in 1625: ‘I was commanded to perfect a Translation...

    £3200

  16. WITHER, George.

    Juvenilia. A Collection of those Poemes which were heretofore imprinted, and written by George Wither.

    London Printed for Robert Allott … 1633.

    Second collected edition, very scarce, much expanded from the first edition of 1622, adding Wither’s Motto and Faire Virtue or the Maid of Philarete.

    £1500

  17. WITHER, George.

    Speculum Speculativum: or, a Considering-Glasse; being an Inspection into the present and late sad Condition of...

    London, Written June XIII. MDCLX. and there Imprinted the same year [1660].

    The third of three editions in the same year, from an entirely new setting of type, with ‘Glasse’ rather than ‘Glass’ on the title-page, the errata formerly printed on L8 corrected, and the errors corrected in the caption title on p. 1

    £525

  18. WOLFERN CHACE,

    a Chronicle of “Days that are no More.” A Novel in three Volumes. By one – who not unknown to fame, / Yet...

    London: Remington and Co. ... 1879.

    First edition of a Regency tale which ranges from the convivial to the lurid as its setting ranges from Brighton to London Fields. The central character is a public servant of great importance and varying fortunes (he offers perhaps a hint as to what kind of fame our author was ‘not unknown to’,...

    £550

  19. WOOLLEY, C. Leonard and Thomas Edward LAWRENCE.

    The Wilderness of Zin ... With a Chapter on the Greek Inscriptions by M.N. Tod....

    London: The Alden Press for Jonathan Cape, 1936.

    Second English edition. The Wilderness of Zin originally appeared as the Palestine Exploration Fund Annual for 1914-1915, and was the first work by Lawrence to appear in book form. However, it was included in the P.E.F. series on somewhat disingenuous grounds: ‘During January and February 1914,...

    £150

  20. WORDSWORTH, William.

    The White Doe of Rylstone; or the Fate of the Nortons. A Poem …

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown … by James Ballantyne and Co., Edinburgh. 1815.

    First edition. ‘During the summer of 1807, the Author visited, for the first time, the beautiful Scenery that surrounds Bolton Priory, in Yorkshire; and the Poem of The White Doe, founded upon a Tradition connected with the place, was composed at the close of the same year.’ (Advertisement). The...

    £1350