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. [CRESSWELL, Henry].

    Fair and Free. By the Author of ‘A Modern Greek Heroine’ ... in three Volumes ...

    London: Smith, Elder, & Co. ... 1882.

    First edition. By the terms of her father’s will, Marcella Cassilys is only to inherit her fortune on marriage, or the wealth reverts to his sister. Her aunt therefore determines to prevent her marrying and does all in her power to ruin her niece’s reputation, persuading her to wear scandalously...

    £450

  2. [CROWTHER, Thomas Burnside.]

    Anderida; or, the Briton and the Saxon, A.D. CCCXLI. In three Volumes …

    London: Bickers and Son … 1875.

    First edition of a historical novel inspired by Gibbon, (‘there are probably few readers of Gibbon’s History who have not paused for a moment over a foot-note in the thirty-eighth chapter …’)

    £450

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. D’ISRAELI, Isaac.

    Romances …

    London: Printed for Cadell and Davies … Murray and Highley … J. Harding … and J. Wright. 1799.

    First edition, a collection of three prose tales by the father of the novelist and Prime Minister, with an introductory ‘Poetical Essay on Romance and Romancers’. The longest piece is ‘Mejnoun and Leila, the Arabian Petrarch and Laura’, which has echoes of Beckford and draws on the learned orientalism...

    £950

  6. [DODS, Mary Diana].

    Tales of the wild and the wonderful …

    London: Printed for Hurst, Robinson, and Co. … and A. Constable and Co. Edinburgh. 1825.

    First edition, a collection of five ‘tales of diablerie’ comprising ‘The Prediction’, ‘The yellow Dwarf’, ‘Der Freischütz or, the magic Balls [i.e. bullets]’, ‘The Fortunes of De La Pole’ and ‘The Lord of the Maelstrom’ (the last with separate notes).

    £1000

  7. DOUBLEDAY, Thomas.

    The Eve of St Mark: a Romance of Venice …

    London: Smith, Elder, & Co. … 1857.

    First edition, an adventurous tale of ‘Venice as it was in 1590’ by the radical politician and author Thomas Doubleday. The ill-fated Raymond Delancy, a Catholic exile from England, lands in Venice in the middle of the night, just in time to overhear and thwart an assassination plot. His father,...

    £375

  8. [DUCRAY-DUMINIL, François Guillaume].

    Ambrose and Eleanor; or, the Adventures of two Children deserted on an uninhabited Island....

    London: Printed for R. and L. Peacock, at the Juvenile Library … and sold by Hookham and Carpenter … and C. Law … 1797

    Second English edition (first 1796), a translation of Lolotte et Fanfan (1788). Lucy Peacock kept a shop on Oxford Street which stocked her own and other juvenile tales. Lolotte et Fanfan (1788) evidently appealed for its didactic potential, but required significant editing: ‘many characters...

    £425

  9. DU MAURIER, George.

    Peter Ibbetson. With an Introduction by his Cousin Lady ***** (“Madge Plunket”). Edited and illustrated...

    London: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. ... 1892.

    First English edition of Du Maurier’s first novel, published when he was fifty-five. The American edition (New York, Harper’s) appeared a month earlier. This is the binding (Carter ‘B’) described by Sadleir; Wolff’s presentation copy, while blocked in black, is lettered in brown. John Carter...

    £200

  10. EDE.

    A Story. Three Volumes ...

    London: Remington & Co. Publishers ... 1889.

    First edition. Stifled by her boring life as the pampered daughter of a rich Midlands banker, Edith runs away to the neighbouring Potteries. She uses skills acquired as an accomplished young lady of leisure to get a job in the local porcelain factory as painter on china. She soon finds herself promoted...

    £450

  11. [EDGEWORTH, Maria].

    Castle Rackrent, an Hibernian Tale. Taken from Facts, and from the Manners of the Irish Squires, before the...

    Dublin: Printed for P. Wogan, H. Colbert, B. Byrne [and seven others]. 1800.

    First Irish edition of Edgeworth’s first and most important novel, published in the same year as the first edition. Castle Rackrent is a rattling narrative of three generations of an Irish estate, variously thought of as the first historical novel, the first Anglo-Irish novel and the first novel with...

    £850

  12. [EDGEWORTH, Maria].

    Castle Rackrent, an Hibernian Tale. Taken from Facts, and from the Manners of the Irish Squires, before the...

    [London,] Printed for J. Johnson … 1800. By J. Crowder ...

    First edition of Edgeworth’s first and most important novel, a rattling narrative of three generations of an Irish estate, variously thought of as the first historical novel, the first Anglo-Irish novel and the first novel with a unreliable narrator, the old family servant Thady Quirk. The Rackrents...

    £2250

  13. ELLIS, Sarah Stickney.

    Look to the End; or, the Bennets abroad ...

    Fisher, Son, & Co. ... London [1845].

    First edition. Travelling in Italy Mrs. Ellis was struck by the beauty of the scenery and by alarm ‘at the vast power which an intense love of the beautiful might exercise over a young and feeling character’. This gave her the idea for Look to the End, the story of an English family travelling abroad...

    £250

  14. FIELDING, Henry.

    The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling …

    Paris: Printed by Fr. Amb. Didot the eldest, and sold by J. N. Pissot, and Barrois Junior … Booksellers. 1780.

    The first French edition in English of Fielding’s masterpiece, only the second English edition to be printed abroad (after Dresden, 1774). Here the text benefits from critical attention by Didot, who collated Murphy’s edition of Fielding’s Works with the last separate English edition.

    £425

  15. FIELDING, Henry.

    The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In six Volumes …

    London: Printed for A. Millar … 1749.

    Second edition, although not so designated, the errata corrected and the errata leaf in volume I omitted (the ‘Contents’ extended to c8 recto to fill the gap). The first edition (2000 copies) was almost completely subscribed before publication when this second edition (1500 copies) was ordered....

    £1350

  16. FORSTER, E. M.

    A Passage to India …

    London, Edward Arnold & Co., 1924.

    Signed, limited first edition (no. 197 of 200) of Forster’s final masterpiece.

    £2500

  17. [FRANCE.]

    L’Ombre du feu Cardinal: or, Cardinal Fleury’s Ghost. Translated from the original French Manuscript of the Abbè...

    London, Printed, and sold by J. Roberts … B. Milles … and the Booksellers of London and Westminster. 1743.

    First edition, ostensibly translated from a manuscript rescued by an Officer of the Guards at the Bastille, but in fact an original English thrust at French foreign policy following the death of Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury, the able chief minister of Louis XV and political ally of Sir Robert Walpole.

    £350

  18. GASS, William H.

    Omensetter’s Luck – A Novel.

    New York: The New American Library, 1966.

    First edition. An excellent copy of the first novel by the most philosophically literate author of fiction in the post-war era.

    £300

  19. GIBBON, Charles.

    By Mead and Stream, a Novel ... in three Volumes ...

    London: Chatto and Windus ... 1884.

    First edition. A concealed father, a concealed benefactor, and a concealed room all play a part in this busy romance in the country setting of ‘Willowmere’, where success at the Smithfield show is as important to one of the protagonists as a wedding and a reunion are to others. Charles Gibbon (1834-1890)...

    £400

  20. GLAISTER, Elizabeth.

    The Perfect Path. A Novel … in two Volumes …

    London, Smith, Elder, & Co. … 1884.

    First and only edition, scarce. The novel opens among a group of English expatriates in Mentone on the French Riviera, where Colonel Ashby wastes money at Monte Carlo. His spirited, ‘slangy’ and distinctly wayward daughter, Cordelia, is invited to live with her aunt in rural England, where her greatest...

    £450