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. [CURLL, Edmund, and others].

    An impartial History of the Life, Character, Amours, Travels, and Transactions of Mr. John Barber,...

    London: Printed for E. Curll … 1741

    First edition. A fine specimen of the sort of obituary pamphlet issued by Edmund Curll almost immediately after the death of notable public figures.

    £650

  2. [CURLL, Edmund, editor].

    Impartial Memorials of the Life and Writings of Thomas Hearne, M.A. by several Hands.

    London: Printed in the Year 1736.

    First separate edition (based on John Bilstone’s hostile preface to Hearne’s Vindication of those who take the Oath of Allegiance, 1731, and first printed in this form as part of volume III of Curll’s edition of Mr. Pope’s Literary Correspondence, 1735).

    £450

  3. [DARTON, William, senior].

    Little Jack of all Trades; or, mechanical Arts described, in Prose and Verse, suited to the Capacities...

    London: Printed for Harvey and Darton … 1823.

    First collected edition, first published in two separate parts 1804 and 1805 and several times reprinted. The engraved vignettes are different from those in the separate printings, and the contents are slightly rearranged.

    £250

  4. DAVENANT, Sir William.

    Gondibert: an Heroick Poem ...

    London, Printed for John Holden ... 1651.

    Second (first octavo) edition, first issue, preserving the cancelland V8.

    £450

  5. DAY, Thomas.

    The History of Sandford and Merton; a Work intended for the Use of Children …

    London: Printed for B. Crosby … Darton and Harvey … and T. Ostell … 1803.

    First edition thus of Thomas Day’s wildly popular story for children, here in ‘a more reduced form’ as ‘the price of the original work may be incommodious to … young readers’. This was was not the same text as the ‘Abridged’ version first published by Wallis and Newbery (and by Darton...

    £150

  6. DE CASTRO, Jacob.

    Grammatica Lusitano-Anglica, ou Portugueza, e Ingleza, a qual serve para instruir aos Portuguezes no Idioma Inglez …

    Vende-se em Lisboa, na logea del Joaõ [sic] Joseph Bertrand, e Filhos, Mercadores de Libros … [1759?]

    First Portuguese (and first separate) edition, rare, comprising a dual-language grammar, ‘Small dialogues for beginners’, a thematic vocabulary, and sample ‘Letters on business, or mercantile affairs’.

    £550

  7. DEFFERRARI, T. B.

    Selections of classic Italian Poetry from the most celebrated Works of Tasso, Ariosto, Dante, & Petrarch, for...

    London: G. and W. B. Whittaker; Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Lepard; Dulau and Co.; J. Booker; and Boosey and Sons. 1820.

    First edition of this attractive Italian reader, with the Italian text in English word order subjoined to each passage, and notes in English on meaning, irregular diction, etc. where needed. The well-chosen selections from classic authors include the episode of Armida e Rinaldo from Gerusalemme Liberata,...

    £225

  8. [DEFOE, Daniel].

    A Letter to the Dissenters.

    London: Printed for John Morphew … 1713.

    First edition, the state with p. 48 numbered correctly. This tract is an admonition to Defoe’s fellow Dissenters, ‘saying that they enjoy great privileges at present, the Queen having undertaken to maintain the Toleration Act and even having for long resisted the Act against Occasional Conformity....

    £750

  9. [DEFOE, Daniel].

    Observations on the Fifth Article of the Treaty of Union, humbly offered to the Consideration of the Parliament,...

    Edinburgh, 1706

    Sole edition. Before the Treaty of Union, England, ‘very careful to Encourage her own Shipping, and … Building of Ships, being one of the Principal Foundations of her Wealth’, did not admit foreign-built ships to the freedom of English ports. Foreign owners and foreign bottoms were both excluded....

    £950

  10. DENHAM, Sir John.

    Poems and Translations, with The Sophy ... .

    London, Printed for H. Herringman ... 1668

    First edition, the definitive collection, published the year before the author’s death, containing 25 pieces, fourteen of them new. It begins with Denham’s famous topographical poem, Cooper’s Hill. The bawdy ‘Dialogue between Sir John Pooley and Mr. Thomas Killigrew’, about Killigrew’s...

    £1100

  11. DENNIS, John.

    The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry, contain’d in some new Discoveries never made before, requisite for the Writing...

    London, Printed for Geo. Strahan … and Bernard Lintott … 1704.

    First edition. Published as a ‘preliminary’ to a proposed, but never completed, masterwork, The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry comprises a Preface, Proposal and ‘Specimen’, the latter being an essay substantially on Milton, ‘one of the greatest and most daring Genius’s that has appear’d...

    £1250

  12. DENNIS, John.

    An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakespear: with some Letters of Criticism to the Spectator … London: Printed...

    London, 1704-1716.

    First editions of Dennis and Sewell, later edition of Gay with cancel title-page.

    £1250

  13. DENNIS, John.

    The select Works … in two Volumes … London, Printed by John Darby … 1718. [With:]

    –––––––––––––....

    London, 1718-1720.

    First editions. Dennis, best known for his critical writings, was also a poet and a moderately successful author of plays, and all three genres are represented in his Select Works, including his tragedies Iphigenia and Appius and Virginia, and his influential essay The Grounds...

    £1750

  14. DESENFANS, Noel Joseph.

    Les deux Hermites, dédié a mylord Lyttelton …

    A Londres; chez R. Davis … J Ridley … W Owen … 1773.

    First and only edition, uncommon, of an epistolary novel by the future art dealer Noel Joseph Desenfans. The scene is Paris in the 1680s, the theme is Enlightenment, and the author’s aim was to inspire ‘l’horreur de l’oppression, sentiment nécessaire à l’harmonie de la Société, & vertu...

    £650

  15. DESLANDES, André François Boureau.

    Dying Merrily: or, historical and critical Reflexions on the Conduct of great Men in all Ages,...

    London: Printed for M. Cooper ... 1745

    First edition of this translation of Réfléxions sur le grands homes que sont morts en plaisantant (1712). The translator T. W. has not been identified. A different translation by Abel Boyer, interspersed with English verse (presumably at the suggestion of Boyer), had appeared in 1713 under the...

    £450

  16. DIBDIN, C[harles], the younger.

    Mirth and Metre: consisting of Poems, serious, humorous, and satirical; Songs, Sonnets, Ballads,...

    London: Printed for Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe ... by W. Wilson. 1807

    First edition of the first collection of verse by the manager of Sadler’s Wells, including a section of songs from his ‘most approved’ pantomimes and ‘scenic’ productions. The ticket of a Newark bookseller makes it likely that the stamp ‘Newstead’ refers to Byron’s ancestral home, Newstead...

    £225

  17. DICKENS, Charles.

    Mäster Humphreys Klocka … Förra [–Sednare] Delen.

    Stockholm, Hos. L. J. Hjerta, 1842.

    First edition in Swedish, very rare, of Master Humphrey’s Clock (1840-1), comprising the framing narrative of short stories, followed by The Old Curiosity Shop (‘Den Gamla Antiqvitets-boden’). Barnaby Rudge, omitted here, was published separately in 1845.

    £850

  18. [DICKENS, Charles.]

    Catalogue of the Beautiful Collection of modern Pictures, water-colour Drawings, and Objects of Art, of Charles...

    [1870].

    Original edition. So great was the interest in this famous sale that a facsimile of the catalogue was issued by Field and Tuer in the same year.

    £1000

  19. DILWORTH, W. H.

    The History of the Conquest of Mexico, by the celebrated Hernan Cortes. Containing a faithful and entertaining...

    London: Printed for William Anderson … 1759.

    First edition, very scarce, of a history of the conquistadores for young readers, loosely derived from Antonio Solís de Ribadeneyra’s Historia de la Conquista de México.

    £1850

  20. [DISNEY, John].

    Memoirs of Thomas Brand-Hollis Esq. ...

    London: Printed by T. Gillet ... 1808.

    First edition of a privately printed memoir of Thomas Brand of the Hyde, who assumed the name Brand-Hollis on inheriting the Dorset estates (and library and collection of sculpture) of his friend the ‘Republican’ Thomas Hollis, the Whig bibliophile. The author, John Disney, a close friend of Thomas...

    £750