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. [CROMWELL AND BAREBONES’S PARLIAMENT.]

    A collection of 33 Parliamentary Acts and Declarations.

    London, various printers, April–December 1653.

    A fine contemporary assembly of Parliamentary acts and declarations, many rare, issued by Cromwell’s interim Council of State and its successor, ‘Barebone’s Parliament’, which governed between the dissolution of the Rump Parliament in April 1653 and the declaration of Cromwell as Lord Protector...

    £6500

  2. CRUSO, Timothy.

    Twenty-Four Sermons preached at the Merchant-Lecture at Pinners Hall …

    London: Printed by S. Bridge, for Thomas Parkhurst … 1699.

    First edition, published posthumously, an uncommon collection of sermons by Timothy Cruso, schoolfriend of Defoe, who memorialised his name in Robinson Crusoe.

    £450

  3. [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

  4. [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

  5. [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

  6. [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

  7. [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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. [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

  13. 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

  14. [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

  15. DONNE, John.

    Juvenilia or certaine Paradoxes and Problemes … The second Edition, corrected.

    London, Printed by E. P. for Henry Seyle … 1633.

    Second edition, published in the same year as the first, with the omission of the licences to print but adding twenty-three new lines to Problem I, ‘Why have Bastards best Fortune’ (‘Because Fortune herself is a Whore …’), a Problem which, Keynes remarks, ‘was particularly insulting to the...

    £3750

  16. DONNE, John.

    Six Sermons upon severall Occasions, preached before the King, and elsewhere: by that late learned & reverend Divine...

    Printed by the Printers to the University of Cambridge: and are to be sold by Nicholas Fussell and Humphrey Mosley ... 1634.

    First edition of all six texts, each one with its separate title page. Six Sermons comprises ‘Two Sermons Preached before King Charles, upon the xxvi verse of the first Chapter of Genesis’, ‘A Sermon upon the xix verse of the ii Chapter of Hosea’, ‘A Sermon upon the xliiii verse of the...

    £3750

  17. DONNE, John.

    Letters to severall Persons of Honour ... published by John Donne Dr. of the Civill Law.

    London, Printed by J. Flesher, for Richard Marriot ... 1651.

    First edition, first issue. In 1651, John Donne’s son ‘issued a volume containing 129 Letters to severall persons of honour; these letters were not “edited” by him according to the standards of the present day, as, although printed with reasonable care, their arrangement is irregular and...

    £3200

  18. DUTENS, Louis.

    An Inquiry into the Origin of the Discoveries attributed to the Moderns: wherein it is demonstrated, that our most...

    London: Printed for W. Griffin … 1769.

    First edition in English of Recherches sur l’origine des découvertes attribuées aux modernes (Paris, 1766), an illuminating and voluminous study of how ‘in almost all truths of the greatest importance, the ancients preceded the moderns; or at least pointed out, or prepared the way, for their...

    £300

  19. 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

  20. EVELYN, John.

    Publick Employment and an active Life with all its Appanages, such as Fame, Command, Riches, Conversation, &c. prefer’d...

    London, Printed by J[ohn] M[aycock] for H. Herringman … 1667.

    First edition, second issue, with cancel title-page replacing the original, which made nonsense of the meaning (… Solitude, and all its Appanages, such as Fame etc.). This is a short, rather light-hearted confutation of Sir George (‘Bloody’) MacKenzie’s Moral Essay Preferring Solitude...

    £950