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. JENKINS, Edward.

    The Devil’s Chain … Twenty-sixth Thousand. With twelve Illustrations by Barnard and Thomson.

    William Mullan & Son … London … Belfast, 1877.

    25th Thousand, according to the binding, but ‘Twenty-sixth Thousand’ on the title-page.


  2. [JOHNSON, Samuel].


    London: J. Bretell for Hector McLean, 1819.

    Third Smirke edition, ordinary-paper issue. ‘All travel has its advantages,’ the lexicographer, essayist and critic Samuel Johnson (1709-84) wrote in his Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. ‘If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own, and if fortune...


  3. [JOHNSON, Samuel].

    The Prince of Abissinia. A Tale ...

    London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley ... and W. Johnston ... 1759.

    First edition of Johnson’s only novel, written in the evenings of a single week to pay for his mother’s funeral. Its rapid execution is said to have been due to the fact that he had been pondering its chief topics all his life. It soon became his most popular work. Although now inevitably called...


  4. [JOHNSON, Samuel].

    The Prince of Abissinia. A Tale. In two Volumes …

    London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley … and W. Johnston … 1759.

    First edition of Johnson’s only novel, written in the evenings of a single week to pay for his mother’s funeral. Its rapid execution is said to have been due to the fact that he had been pondering its chief topics all his life. It soon became his most popular work. Although now inevitably called...


  5. [JOHNSTONE, Charles].

    The Reverie: or, a Flight to the Paradise of Fools … Published by the Editor of the Adventures of a Guinea....

    London, Printed for T. Becket, and P. A. Da [sic] Hondt … 1763.

    Loeber & Loeber J45; Raven 724.


  6. [JOYCE.] ROTH, Samuel [Edits.].

    Two Worlds – A Literary Quarterly Devoted to the Increase of the Gaiety of Nations.

    New York: Sign of the Mockigrisball, 1925.

    First edition. Unnumbered, one of 500, of which 450 numbered copies were designated for subscribers. Between September 1925 and September 1926 Two Worlds published installments of Joyce’s ‘Work in Progress’ (Finnegan’s Wake), reprinted from European publications (in this case from Criterion,...


  7. [JUVENILE.] DAY, Thomas.

    The History of Sandford and Merton, abridged from the Original. Embellished with elegant Plates … Third...


    Third edition of Richard Johnson’s abridgement of Day’s most famous and most enduring children’s book (1783, with sequels in 1786 and 1789), first published in this form in 1790. ESTC shows three copies of the first edition; five of the second; and BL and UCLA only of this third; Roscoe adds a...


  8. KEARY, Charles Francis.

    The Two Lancrofts ... in three Volumes ...

    London: James R. Osgood, McIlvaine & Co. ... 1893.

    First edition. This novel begins as a tale of college life, but proceeds as the story of a young man’s initiation into the world of letters. Keary (whose authorial specialities were numismatics and Scandinavian history) was known for eliding autobiographical material with his fictions, and this novel...


  9. [KINGSLEY, Charles].

    Yeast: a Problem. Reprinted, with Corrections and Additions, from Fraser’s Magazine.

    London: John W. Parker … 1851.

    First edition in book form of Kingsley’s first novel, and the scarcest (in original condition) according to Sadleir. Yeast was inspired by Kingsley’s passionate reaction to contemporary social unrest in town and country. It first appeared in Fraser’s Magazine in 1848, the year of...


  10. KIPLING, Rudyard.

    Under the Deodars …

    Published by Messrs. A. H. Wheeler & Co., Allahabad, [1888].

    First edition, ‘reprinted in chief from the Week’s News’. Under the Deodars, No. 4 in Wheeler’s Indian Railway Library, contains six stories from Kipling’s time as a journalist, dealing with ‘things that are not pretty and uglinesses that hurt’. Adultery is a common theme, though...


  11. KNIGHT, Herbert Billingshurst Finlay.

    A Girl with a Temper. A Romance of the Wills Act ... in three Volumes ...

    London: Richard Bentley & Son ... 1892.

    First edition. In an attempt to prevent his niece marrying against his wishes, old Sir Arthur Peyto leaves his estate to Celia on condition that she does not marry the barrister Miles Millington, but does marry within a year of the will. Celia’s cousin, who stands to benefit if the terms of the will...


  12. KÖNIGSMARCK, Maria Aurora von, attrib.

    Memoirs of the Love and State-Intrigues of the Court of H—; from the Marriage of the...

    London: Printed for J. H. near Ludgate-Hill. 1743.

    First edition, the issue without a full-stop after ‘Home-truth’ in the title. The sheets were subsequently reissued, with a cancel title (A Home Truth: being Memoirs of the Love and State-Intrigues of the Court of H— [etc.], undated).


  13. [LAGARENNE, Félicité, artist].

    [Costumes d’Ivanhoe au bal donné par ... le prince et princess d’Orange à Bruxelles, mercredi...

    Brussels, 1823.

    First and only edition of a fine and rare suite of ten hand-coloured lithographs commemorating a ball inspired by Scott's Ivanhoe, held in Brussels on 5 February 1823 by the Prince and Princess of Orange in honour of the British community in that city. There were thirty-two guests at the ball,...


  14. LAMB, Charles.

    The Works … in two Volumes …

    London: Printed for C. and J. Ollier … 1818.

    First edition, dedicated to ‘my dear Coleridge’: a selection of poems, essays and letters, as well as John Woodvil and Rosamund Gray. There are also five poems by Charles’s sister Mary.


  15. LANTIER, É[tienne] F[rançois de].

    The Travels of Antenor in Greece and Asia: from a Greek Manuscript found at Herculaneum: including...

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

    First English edition (first published in French in Paris in ‘An VI de la République’, 1797-8). The Travels of Antenor is a work of fiction (‘ne sont qu’un roman d’imagination’), based ostensibly on an ancient Greek manuscript found at the site, recently discovered, of Herculaneum....


  16. [LAWRENCE, George Alfred].

    Barren Honour. A Tale. By the Author of ‘Guy Livingstone.’ In two Volumes ...

    London: Parker, Son, and Bourn ... 1862.

    First edition. Lawrence has been grouped with Kingsley and Hughes in the ‘muscular’ school of Victorian fiction with its sturdy heroes and Christian Socialism. Barren Honour is ‘a study of magnificently chivalrous self-destruction’ on the part of its hero Sir Alan Wyverne, ‘a thoroughbred’...


  17. LEIGH, Sir Samuel Egerton.

    Munster Abbey, a Romance; interspersed with Reflections on Virtue and Morality … in three Volumes …

    Edinburgh: Printed by John Moir … for W. Creech, Cross, and S. Cheyne … [and] for Hookham & Carpentar … Vernor & Hood … London. 1797

    First edition. Despite its ‘Gothic’ title this is a novel of contemporary high life in England and on the Grand Tour, avoiding ‘extravagant descriptions of supernatural scenes and events’. Munster Abbey in Devon is the seat of the hero, Mr. Belford, a bachelor ‘happily possessed of a fortune,...


  18. LE SAGE, Alain René.

    The Adventures of Robert Chevalier, call’d de Beauchene. Captain of a Privateer in New-France ... In two...

    London: Printed and Sold by T. Gardner ... R. Dodsley ... and M. Cooper ... 1745.

    First edition in English of Les avantures de monsieur Robert Chevalier (1732), a rousing tale by the master of the picaresque, the author of Gil Blas.


  19. LE SAGE, Alain René.

    The History of Vanillo Gonzales, surnamed the merry Batchelor. In two Volumes. From the French …

    London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson … 1797

    First complete translation of Le Sage’s Histoire d’Estevanille Gonzalez, surnommé le garcon de bonne humeur (1734), itself a loose French adaptation of Vida y hechos de Estebanillo Gonzalez (1646), preserving only a few episodes of the Spanish original. Authorship of Vida y hechos...


  20. LITTLE, James Stanley.

    My Royal Father. A Story for Women ... in three Volumes ...

    London: F. V. White ... 1886.

    First edition. When Raymond FitzCharles, the lost heir to the dukedom of Tiddborough, is discovered in the diamond fields of South Africa, various family members conspire to bring about his ruin and prevent his establishing his claim to the title. Chief amongst Raymond’s enemies is his cousin Gaston...