English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees, Ted Hofmann or Alexander Laar

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. GAY, John.

    Achilles. An Opera. As it is perform’d at the Theatre-Royal in Covent Garden ... with the Musick prefix’d to each Song.

    London: Printed for J. Watts ... 1733.

    First edition of Gay’s last ballad opera; he was arranging for its production at the time of his death. The work is a farcical burlesque of classical myth, in which Achilles, dressed as a woman, is admitted to the court of Lycomedes, who falls in love with him while he in turn is trying to woo Deidamia....

    £400

  2. [COWLEY, OLDHAM etc.]

    Anacreon done into English out of the original Greek …

    Oxford, Printed by L. Lichfield … for Anthony Stephens … 1683.

    First edition of the second translation into English (after Thomas Stanley’s of 1651) of the Anacreontea, a collection of poems long attributed to Anacreon but actually by numerous anonymous imitators. The present compilation, of fifty-two poems, is similarly anonymous, but contains translations...

    £650

  3. 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

  4. [POETRY.]

    Anthology of manuscript floriographic poetry,

    dated June 1853.

    A collection of twenty-six apparently unpublished poems in manuscript, presented as an alphabetical acrostic. The poems express the perfection and the language of flowers – that is, the meaning embodied by each variety. Examples given here include ox-eye for patience, quince blossom for temptation,...

    £250

  5. 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

  6. TENNYSON, Alfred, Lord.

    Ballads and other Poems.

    London: C. Kegan Paul & Co. … 1880.

    First edition. Wise, Tennyson 138; Tinker 2093.

    £75

  7. MARKISH, Peretz Davidovich.

    Brat’ia [Brothers].

    Moscow, Goslitizdat, 1935.

    First edition in Russian of Markish’s epic poem Brider (Brothers, Kiev, 1929), an optimistic work glorifying the Communist regime. The editor is Grigory Petnikov, and the translators D. Brodsky, V. Bugaevsky, S. Lipkin, Maria Petrova, A. Tarkovsky, N. Ushakov, A. Shteinberg and A. Shpirt.

    £1200

  8. LLOYD, Mary.

    Brighton a Poem. Descriptive of the Place and Parts adjacent. And other Poems …

    London: Printed for the Author. Sold by J. Harding … and by all the Booksellers at Brighton, Worthing, and Eastborne. 1809.

    First and only edition of Mary Lloyd’s paean to the attractions of ‘Beauty, and fashion’s ever favourite seat’. The poem vividly portrays Brighton’s dazzling social round: the races, dances at the Assembly Rooms, plays at the theatre, and acrobatic shows at the circus. Particular attention...

    £350

  9. HAYWARD, Thomas.

    The British Muse, or, a Collection of Thoughts moral, natural, and sublime, of our English Poets: who flourished...

    London, Printed for F. Cogan … and J. Nourse … 1738.

    First edition of this interesting antiquarian miscellany of literary extracts. The subjects, arranged alphabetically, range from ‘Abbeys’ to ‘Youth’ via ‘Abstinence’, ‘Hypocrite’ ‘Mediocrity’ ‘Rebellion’ ‘Self-Murder’, and ‘Travel’. The authors quoted include Beaumont,...

    £575

  10. [D’URFEY, Thomas].

    Butler’s Ghost: or Hudibras. The Fourth Part. With Reflections upon these Times …

    London, Printed for Joseph Hindmarsh … 1682.

    First edition of D’Urfey’s sequel to Samuel Butler’s burlesque poem Hudibras, the most celebrated satire of the seventeenth century, published in three parts in 1663-78. Written in hudibrastic metre, the two cantos of Butler’s Ghost follow the progress of Butler’s eponymous hero from an interrupted...

    £500

  11. MADELENET, Gabriel.

    Carminum libellus. Parisiis, apud Claudium Cramoisy... M. DC. LXII.

    Paris, 1662.

    First edition, the author’s only book, edited after his death by Loménie de Brienne, this copy ruled in red and bound for the editor with his arms.

    £2250

  12. [HABINGTON, William].

    Castara … the second Edition. Corrected and augmented.

    London, Printed by B. A. & T. F. for Will: Cooke, and are to bee sold at his Shop … 1635.

    Second edition, adding to the contents of the first edition (1634) a commendatory poem that reveals Habington’s identity; a ‘second part’ with twenty-six new poems; and three prose characters: ‘A Mistris’ and ‘A Wife’ to introduce the two parts, and ‘A Friend’ to introduce the section...

    £3500

  13. [HABINGTON, William].

    Castara … the third Edition. Corrected and augmented.

    London, Printed by T. Cotes, for Will. Cooke: and are to be sold at his Shop … 1640.

    First complete edition. The first two parts were published in 1634 and 1635-6. The third part (pp. 167-228) appears here for the first time, and turns from love to religious reflection. Where the first two parts had expressed their dominant themes (courtship and married love) with the prose characters...

    £2500

  14. [MORGAN, Macnamara].

    The Causidicade. A Panegyri-Satiri-Serio-Comic-Dramatical Poem. On the strange Resignation, and stranger-Promotion....

    London: Printed for M. Cooper … 1743

    First edition, a verse satire on the sudden resignation as solicitor-general of Sir John Strange, one of the ‘old corps’ who still supported Walpole after his fall, and the appointment as his successor of William Murray, a member of the Duke of Newcastle’s circle. There is a satirical ‘Dramatis...

    £125

  15. SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe.

    The Cenci. A Tragedy, in five Acts ...

    Italy. Printed for C. and J. Ollier ... London. 1819.

    First edition, one of only 250 copies printed for Shelley at Livorno (Leghorn) and then sent to Ollier, his publishers, for sale in London. Shelley arranged for the printing himself, as he told Peacock, because in Italy ‘it costs, with all duties and freightage, about half of what it would cost in...

    £5750

  16. GREVILLE, Fulke, Baron Brooke.

    Certaine Learned and Elegant Workes of the Right Honorable Fulke, Lord Brooke, written in his Youth,...

    London: Printed by E. P. for Henry Seyle ... 1633.

    First edition. This is the definitive printing of the poems and plays of an attractive minor Elizabethan – the ‘Servant to Queen Elizabeth, Councillor to King James, Friend to Sir Philip Sidney’ (to quote his epitaph). Like Sidney, Greville never published his poetry in his lifetime; and, apart...

    £2250

  17. COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor.

    Christabel: Kubla Khan, a Vision; the Pains of Sleep …

    Printed for John Murray … by William Bulmer … 1816.

    First edition of all three celebrated poems.

    £1000

  18. BROWNING, Robert.

    Christmas-Eve and Easter-Day. A Poem …

    London: Chapman & Hall … 1850.

    First edition of the first poem to appear after Browning’s marriage to Elizabeth Barrett. Ashley, I, 118; Wise, Browning, pp.17-18; Tinker 418.

    £175

  19. FLETCHER, Giles, the younger.

    Christs Victorie, and Triumph in Heaven, and Earth, over, and after Death …

    Cambridge, Printed by C. Legge. 1610.

    First edition of an important poem, a ‘worthy link’ in the chain which connects Fletcher’s great master, Spenser, with his great successor, Milton (Hugh de Selincourt, CHEL). This is the first state, with a fleur-de-lis device on the title-pages – three copies are known with the title-pages reset...

    £3500

  20. CLEVELAND, John.

    Clievelandi Vindiciae: or, Clieveland’s Genuine Poems, Orations, Epistles, &c. purged from the many false and...

    London, Printed for Robert Harford ... 1677.

    First edition, the issue with Robert Harford’s imprint. This ‘vindicatory’ text was prepared by Cleveland’s former students John Lake and Samuel Drake from authentic manuscripts to restore true readings to poems that had degenerated through six editions of The Character of a London-Diurnall...

    £950