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. ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica: or, a Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and miscellaneous Literature; enlarged...

    Edinburgh and London, 1823-4.

    An extremely handsome set of the sixth edition, with the important Supplement of 1824. First published in 1771, ‘the most famous of all the encyclopaedias in the English language’ (PMM) had been expanded over successive editions from 3 to 20 volumes. The sixth edition was a largely a reprint of the...

    £10000

  2. SAUSSURE, Ferdinand de.

    Cours de Linguistique générale.

    Lausanne & Paris, Payot, 1916.

    Rare first edition. In general the study of language in the 19th century concerns philology. While great steps were made at the beginning of that century to put the study of language on a scientific basis, the vital distinction was not made between philology and non-historical linguistics. Saussure...

    £2250

  3. MACBEAN, Alexander.

    A Dictionary of ancient Geography, explaining the local Appellations in sacred, Grecian, and Roman History;...

    London, G. Robinson and T. Cadell, 1773.

    First edition. Alexander Macbean was one Dr. Johnson’s Dictionary scribes. To Mrs. Thrale’s inquiry concerning him Johnson replied: ‘Madam, he is a Scotchman; he is man of great learning … he knows many languages … I advised him to write a geographical dictionary; but I have lost all hopes...

    £1750

  4. [RIVERS, David].

    Literary Memoirs of living Authors of Great Britain, arranged according to an alphabetical Catalogue of their...

    London: Printed for R. Faulder … sold also by T. Egerton … and W. Richardson … 1798.

    First edition of a collection of literary biographies, including perhaps the earliest brief life of Coleridge, whose first volume of Poems had appeared in 1796:

    £1500

  5. CASOTTI, [Laurentio].

    A New Method of teaching the Italian Tongue to Ladies and Gentlemen. Wherein all the Difficulties are explain’d,...

    London: Printed by E. Everingham at the Author’s Expences, and sold by James Round … and by Joseph Archez … and by the Bookseller in...

    First and only edition, very rare, the only publication by Casotti, ‘Italian Minister, and Professor’, dedicated to Henry Petty, Baron Shelburne, (1675-1751) but printed at the author’s expense.

    £1500

  6. [SPANISH ROYAL ACADEMY.]

    Prontuario de ortografía de la lengua castellana dispuesto de Real Órden para el uso de las escuelas...

    Madrid, Imprenta Nacional, 1844.

    Rare first edition of the first official orthography for Spanish. Earlier attempts at standardising Spanish orthography had met with failure. Even the Real Academia Española (founded 1713) for years could only advise on spelling. It was not until the publication of the present work, now with full royal...

    £1250

  7. RENAN, Ernest (1823-1892), French philologist and philosopher.

    A collection of 26 autograph letters and notes signed, with one...

    Paris and Sèvres, 1853-1889 (and undated).

    A fine collection of letters from Renan, providing an insight into the breadth of his academic pursuits, his publications, his contacts in France and abroad, and his personality.

    £1250

  8. PIOZZI, Hester Lynch.

    British Synonymy; or, an Attempt at regulating the Choice of Words in familiar Conversation. Inscribed, with...

    London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson … 1794.

    First edition of a fascinating collection of short essays on synonyms, intended as a help to her husband and his foreign friends. Mrs. Piozzi began work on her Synonymy in early 1792, and by August was hard at the grindstone: ‘ten pages o’ Day copying, besides a little Composition now and...

    £950

  9. CALBRIS, B.

    The Rational Guide to the French Tongue. Containing Tables, calculated to teach the Order of the French Syntax. Together...

    London: Sold by Messrs. Debrett … Hockham, Miller, and Clarke … Lindsell … Dulau … De Boffe … [and seven others.] 1797.

    First and only edition, rare, of an advanced guide to idiomatic French for those who already have a strong grasp of the language. For his examples of idiomatic elegance, Calbris draws on Racine and Corneille; there are ten short fables at the end of the first part.

    £650

  10. MANNECRANTZ, C[arl] Gust[av].

    Kort Grammatica, eller Underrättelse om forsta Grunderne af Engelska Språket …

    Stockholm, Tryckt i Stolpiska Trycheriet … 1783

    First edition of an English grammar for Swedish students. There is some contemporary annotation in the chapters on pronunciation. Some of the examples are surprisingly colloquial (‘by hook or by crook’, ‘how goes it’, ‘in the nick of time’), some archaic (‘methinks’, ‘peradventure’),...

    £650

  11. WALKER, John.

    Hints for Improvement in the Art of Reading ...

    London: Printed for the Author, and sold by T. Cadell ... G. Robinson ... and T. Becket ... 1783

    First edition. The future lexicographer John Walker (1732-1807) left grammar school and then absconded from an apprenticeship to join a succession of provincial theatre companies. Garrick hired him in 1754 and for the next four years he performed a number of mainly minor parts at Drury Lane. In 1758...

    £650

  12. PFIZMAIER, August.

    Woerterbuch der japanischen Sprache.

    Erste Lieferung [all published]. Vienna, in Commission bei Carl Gerold und Sohn, 1851.

    First edition of the first Japanese – German dictionary, which gives the Kanji (Chinese) characters together with the Katakana sound. On facing pages are printed the German (expansive) and English (shorter) translations or definitions together with the transliterated version. The work was handsomely...

    £650

  13. DE CASTRO, Jacob.

    Grammatica Lusitano-Anglica, ou Portugueza, e Ingleza, a qual serve para instruir aos Portuguezes no Idioma Inglez …

    Vende-se em Lisboa, na logea del Joaõ [sic] Joseph Bertrand, e Filhos, Mercadores de Libros … [1759?]

    First Portuguese (and first separate) edition, rare, comprising a dual-language grammar, ‘Small dialogues for beginners’, a thematic vocabulary, and sample ‘Letters on business, or mercantile affairs’.

    £550

  14. MUSSI, Antonio.

    Disegno di lezioni e di ricerche sulla lingua ebraica. Prefazione recitata nella adunanza della R. Università...

    Pavia, Bolzani, [1792].

    First edition of this rare history of the Hebrew language. Including a preface delivered as a lecture at the University of Pavia, the first part of the work discusses Hebrew grammar, noting its consanguinity with other Eastern languages, including Greek, Syriac, Ethiopic and Arabic. Choosing standard...

    £500

  15. TRUBETZKOY, Nikolai Sergeevich.

    Das morphonologische System der russischen Sprache.

    Prague, Jednota československých matematiků a fysiků, 1934.

    First edition, published as the second part of Description phonologique du russe moderne; the first part, Roman Jakobson’s ‘Phonologie général du mot’, was published later.

    £350

  16. [BERKENHOUT, John].

    Clavis anglica Linguæ botanicæ; or, a botanical Lexicon; in which the Terms of Botany, particularly those...

    London: Printed for the Author. Sold by T. Becket, and A. de Hondt … and Mess. Hawes, Clarke, and Collins … 1764.

    First edition, dedicated to John Hope of the University of Edinburgh, and written with the assistance of Arthur Lee of Virginia, winner of the Hope Medal in 1763.

    £325

  17. LINDSETH, Jon A., and Alan TANNENBAUM, eds.

    Alice in a World of Wonderlands: the Translations of Lewis Carroll’s Masterpiece.

    Newcastle, DE, Oak Knoll Press, 2015.

    This is the most extensive analysis ever done of translations of any single English language novel. On 4 October 1866 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson/Lewis Carroll wrote to his publisher Macmillan stating "Friends here [in Oxford] seem to think that the book is untranslatable." But his friends were wrong, as...

    £199

  18. MACFARLANE, Patrick.

    A new and copious English and Gaelic Vocabulary, with the different Parts of Speech; in alphabetical Order....

    Edinburgh: Printed [by R. Menzies] for the Author, and Sold by A. Constable and Co. Edinburgh. 1815.

    The English-Gaelic Vocabulary was published alone, as here, at 5s.6d., or together with the Gaelic-English part at 12s.6d. The Gaelic scholar complied it because the ‘want of an English and Gaelic Vocabulary has long been a desideratum with those who wish to be acquainted wth the language in which...

    £175

  19. [ANON]

    The adventures of John Manks and his pock-marked cat.

    Dublin, P Bereton 1 Lr Exchange Street, [c. 1865?].

    This short nonsense-writing prose anecdote is set in Ireland and recounts the unnamed protagonist’s encounters with a coach man driving ’78 old dead jack asses, under an empty steam coach’, a ‘poor old man’ with a ‘great big stack of chimney on his back’ and ‘John Manks’, listed in...

    £125