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. NORTON, John.

    An Account of remarkable Cures, performed by the Use of Maredant’s Antiscorbutic Drops, prepared by John Norton,...

    [Dublin, 1772].

    Rare Dublin edition of a puff for Norton’s patent antiscorbutic drops, comprising letters by satisfied customers. Norton exported his drops to America (an advertisement appeared in the Virginia Gazette for 16 September 1775) and Ireland, with James Williams his main agent. An additional letter...

    £450

  2. [CRADOCK, Joseph].

    An Account of some of the most romantic Parts of North Wales …

    London, Printed for T. Davies … and T. Cadell … 1777.

    First edition of this travel narrative and history of Wales, dedicated to Sir Watkin Williams Wynn ‘who possesses so considerable a part of that Country’.

    £575

  3. BURNEY, Charles.

    An Account of the musical Performances in Westminster-Abbey, and the Pantheon, May 26th, 27th, 29th; and June...

    London, Printed for the Benefit of the musical Fund; and sold by T. Payne and Son ... 1785.

    First edition. The Handel Commemoration Concerts of 1784, conceived the previous year by Viscount Fitzwilliam, Sir Watkins Williams Wynn and Joah Bates to celebrate the centenary of the birth of George Frederick Handel, were performances on a scale then unprecedented in England. On the morning of Wednesday...

    £1250

  4. [SCOTLAND.

    ACT OF UNION.] A coherent tract volume of ten pamphlets, for and against the Union, published in 1705-6.

    The months leading up to the Act of Union in January 1707 were a time of heated debate in Scotland. Politicians, writers, the landed gentry, churchmen, and others joined in making their opinions known in tracts and speeches. To pressures from an England anxious to ensure a Protestant succession were...

    £3750

  5. ESSAY UPON MODERN GALLANTRY (AN).

    Address’d to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a seasonable Admonition...

    London: Printed for A. More … 1726.

    Second edition, unrecorded, published in the same year as the first – apparently from the same setting of type with the title-page altered to add the edition statement.

    £1000

  6. HALL, Major Herbert Byng.

    The Adventures of a Bric-a-Brac Hunter …

    London: Tinsley Brothers … 1868.

    First edition of a charming travel guide to Europe for the dilletante porcelain collector; some of the sketches that make up the book first appeared in the Belgravia magazine.

    £275

  7. BOWRING, Sir John.

    Ancient Poetry and Romances of Spain …

    London, for Taylor and Hessey, 1824.

    First edition. Bowring had long had a soft spot for Spain (‘I love Spain as a country, and Spaniards as a people. In other lands I single out special objects for my regard … in Spain, my affections pervade and cling to the whole population’, London Magazine, 1823, quoted in Hitchcock)....

    £200

  8. HISTORY OF THE HOUSE OF LORRAINE (The).

    With an exact Genealogy of the most illustrious Family, and some Account of his serene...

    London: Printed in the year 1731.

    First edition of this satire on Sir Robert Walpole, the ostensible occasion for which is the arrival into England of the twenty-five year old Duke of Lorraine, Leopold Clement, afterward Emperor of Germany. The author proposes that ‘a People so politically speculative as the English are, should cause...

    £950

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. HOMERIC HYMN (THE)

    to Aphrodite. A New Translation by F. L. Lucas, fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. With ten Engravings by...

    Printed in Great Britain at the Golden Cockerel Press, 1948.

    First edition, No. 308 of 750 copies. Cockalorum 177.

    £225

  12. [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

  13. THORNBURY, George Walter.

    Art and Nature at Home and Abroad …

    London: Hurst and Blackett, Publishers, Successors to Henry Colburn … 1856.

    First edition: an early collection of essays by Thornbury (1828-1876), a prolific (and famously cacographic) writer who is closely associated with Dickens for his work on Household Words and All the Year Round (‘one of Charles Dickens’s most valuable contributors’; Dickens, Letters,...

    £450

  14. GARDINER, John Smallman.

    The Art and the Pleasures of Hare-Hunting. In six Letters to a Person of Quality …

    London: Printed by R. Griffith … 1750.

    First edition, scarce, an eloquent and amusing account of hare-hunting, the first monograph on the subject in English, comprising letters on the superiority of hare-hunting to fox-hunting (less dangerous, less laborious), on the best types of dogs, of trailing and starting hares, etc. Gardiner’s letter...

    £1250

  15. SELLER, John.

    Atlas minimus, or a Book of Geography shewing all the Empires Monarchies Kingdomes, Regions Dominions Principalities...

    And are to be sold at his House at the Hermitage in Wapping. And in Pope’s Head Alley … [1678?]

    First edition in book form, second issue, of Seller’s charming miniature atlas, first published c. 1676 as playing cards, with the 52 maps divided into four suits and so numbered.

    £24000

  16. [HAWKE, William].

    An authentic and genuine Narrative of the Life and surprizing Exploits, of William Hawke, the famous Highwayman,...

    London: Printed for the Author; and sold by R. Richards, at his Lottery-Office … 1774.

    First edition of a shilling life of the ‘monarch’ of highwaymen, William Hawke. He and his henchman were ‘the most daring and desperate gang … that ever infested the English roads’, but ‘though Hawke had many vices, yet he was not destitute of every virtue’, and was known for his generosity...

    £950

  17. [NAUDÉ, Philippe, attr.

    author]. Histoire abrégée de la naissance & du progrez du Kouakerisme avec celle de ses dogmes.

    Cologne, Pierre Marteau, 1692.

    First edition of the earliest work on the Quakers to be published in French. In his survey of English Quakerism the author gives voice to widespread contemporary English criticisms of the movement, radicalizing the charge of Socinianism into one of ‘pure deism’ and ultimately atheism.

    £1000

  18. CAMPBELL, Thomas.

    Autograph letter, signed, to the novelist and socialite Lady Morgan, explaining why he cannot join her party.

    ‘Wednesday Morning’, no date, but late 1840.

    ‘I have been dying also several times during the last six months – I hope however to survive a few weeks when I shall be nearer to you when, in my new house in Victoria Square, I shall hope to see you frequently.’ Campbell suffered increasing ill health towards the end of his life, but continued...

    £175

  19. SOUTHWELL, Robert.

    Autograph letter, signed, concerning problems of tenure with certain estates including his own, and concerning...

    Kinsale, 18 October 1677

    Robert Southwell (d. 1677), father of the diplomat and future secretary of state for Ireland Sir Robert Southwell, was a land owner and government administrator with various official responsibilities at Kinsale. Like others during the Commonwealth he had been able to increase his estates by acquiring...

    £350

  20. [O’BRIEN.] NA GOPALEEN, Myles. [Pseud.] Brian O’Nolan.

    The Best of Myles.

    New York: Walker & Company, 1968.

    First US edition, preceded by the London, MacGibbon & Kee edition of the same year.

    £150