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. [TRADE CARD.]

    John Blundell, Engraver.

    In Honey-Suckle Court, Grubb-Street, London. 1742.

    A fine and rare trade card for the jobbing engraver John Blundell, the engraved text (in several different hands to demonstrate skill at lettering) surrounded by an ornate border of angels, putti and tools (compasses, palette, easels, busts, burins, sketches, and a map at the head).

    £600

  2. TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

    The Tunbridge Wells Guide; or an Account of the ancient and present State of the Place, to which is added a particular...

    Tunbridge Wells, Printed and sold by J. Sprange, at his Circulating Library. Sold also in London, by Rivington Booksellers … ‘1786’...

    The Tunbridge Wells Guide apparently first appeared in 1780; reissues and/or new editions, partly from standing type, with variously erratic pagination and a steady accretion of content, appeared throughout the 1780s and 1790s. ‘The hurry in putting this to the press,’ an ingenuous Preface...

    £500

  3. 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

  4. WALTON, Izaak.

    The Life of Mr. George Herbert … To which are added some Letters written by Mr. George Herbert, at his being in...

    London: Printed by Tho: Newcomb, for Rich: Marriott, sold by most Booksellers. 1670.

    First edition, second issue, with a cancel title-page adding mention of the Letters. There are four letters from Donne, one including a sonnet, and a poem at the end by Crashaw. The life, ‘a tissue of paraphrase and quotation, more Herbert than Walton’ (Oxford DNB), would also appear later in the...

    £950

  5. WALTON, Izaak.

    The Life of Dr. Sanderson, late Bishop of Lincoln ... to which is added, some short Tracts or Cases of Conscience,...

    London, Printed for Richard Marriott. 1678.

    First edition, the last of Walton’s five celebrated Lives.

    £400

  6. 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

  7. [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

  8. 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

  9. [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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  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. 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

  15. WORDSWORTH, William.

    A Letter to a Friend of Robert Burns: occasioned by an intended Republication of the Account of the Life of...

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown …1816.

    First edition. James Currie’s Works of Burns with a life and letters was first published in 1800 and several times reprinted and enlarged.

    £1500

  16. WYCHERLEY, William.

    The Posthumous Works … in Prose and Verse. Faithfully publish’d from his original Manuscripts, by Mr. Theobald....

    London: Printed for A. Bettesworth, J. Osborn, W. Mears, W. and J. Innys, J. Peele, T. Woodward; and F. Clay. 1728.

    First edition of an important collection, comprising 308 maxims, one short essay and a large number of previously unpublished poems (the third paginated sequence), based on manuscripts acquired from Captain Thomas Shrimpton, Wycherley’s sole executor.

    £850

  17. [YOUNG, John].

    A Criticism on the Elegy written in a Country Church Yard. Being a Continuation of Dr. J-----n’s Criticism on...

    London: Printed for T. Cadell … 1783.

    First edition, the rare issue with Cadell’s name in the imprint, of which ESTC lists two copies (Glasgow University and Library Company of Philadelphia); almost all copies have a G. Wilkie imprint.

    £750