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. A[RNOLD, Matthew].

    The Strayed Reveller, and other Poems. By A.

    London: B. Fellowes …1849

    First edition of Arnold’s first book, apart from the Rugby and Oxford prize poems Alaric at Rome and Cromwell. To conceal his authorship as ‘A.’ suggests a certain reticence about the volume, even though it contains a number of his finest early poems, including ‘The Forsaken Merman’. Only 500...

    £600

  2. BALL (The).

    Stated in a Dialogue betwixt a Prude and a Coquet, last Masquerade Night, the 12th of May …

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1724.

    First edition, rare, of an amusing verse dialogue between two women preparing to attend one of the popular masquerade balls staged by the Swiss impresario John James Heidegger. Hilaria, a coquette, is effusive about the pleasures of the imminent party and she offers a tempting vision of the delights...

    £2250

  3. BEAUMONT, Joseph.

    Psyche: or Loves Mysterie in XX. Canto’s: displaying the Intercourse between Christ and the Soule …

    London, Printed by John Dawson for George Boddington … 1648.

    First edition. Beaumont was one of the royalist fellows ejected from Cambridge in 1644, and he devoted his enforced retirement to the composition of this poem, a ‘religious epic’ representing ‘a Soule led by divine Grace, and her Guardian Angel ... through the difficult Temptations and Assaults...

    £1250

  4. BELVIDERE (The):

    a Poem. Inscrib’d to Joseph Grove, Esq. of Richmond, in the County of Surrey …

    London: Printed in the Year 1749.

    First edition, rare (British Library and Yale only) of a very attractive description in verse of a country estate in Richmond. The first pages offer a prospect of the garden with its flowers and shrubs, shaded walks and arbours, a bower with the escutcheon over the door of the late Sir William Humble,...

    £2750

  5. BLACKMORE, Richard.

    Prince Arthur. An Heroick Poem. In Ten Books … London: Printed for Awnsham and John Churchil … 1695. [With:]...

    London, 1695-97.

    First edition of Blackmore’s first epic poem, with the first edition of its sequel – John Evelyn’s copies, with shelfmarks ‘E5:1’ and ‘E5:2’ in his hand, Prince Arthur additionally inscribed ‘Catalogo Evelini Inscriptus / Meliora Retinete’ (Evelyn’s motto: ‘Keep the best’).

    £2750

  6. 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

  7. BOWRING, Sir John.

    Wybōr poezyi polskiéy. Specimens of the Polish Poets; with Notes and Observations on the Literature of Poland …

    London, printed for the author, and sold by Baldwin, Cradock & Joy and Rowland Hunter, 1827.

    First edition: the first collection of Polish poetry in English. ‘John Bowring was a true friend of the Poles and became an ardent spokesman of the Polish cause in Britain; his Specimens of the Polish Poets (London 1827), the first Polish anthology in English, bear evidence of the important...

    £300

  8. BOWRING, Sir John.

    Poetry of the Magyars, preceded by a Sketch of the Language and Literature of Hungary and Transylvania …

    London, printed for the author, and sold by Robert Heward, and Rowland Hunter, and Otto Wigand in Pest, 1830

    First edition: the first appearance of Hungarian literature in English, ‘the first world-wide presentation of the hitherto unknown poetry and literature of an almost unknown people, written in an unknown language’ (Varannai, p. 105). It was for a long time the only Western source for Hungarian poetry.

    £300

  9. BROME, Alexander.

    Songs and other Poems … The second Edition corrected and enlarged.

    London, Printed for Henry Brome … 1664.

    Second edition, adding much new material including the poems ‘To his friend Thomas Stanley Esq. on his Odes’, ‘Cromwell’s Panegyrick’, and the salacious ‘Record in Rhyme’; eight songs; and some new commendatory verses in addition to the one by Isaak Walton. Also new is a commendatory letter...

    £500

  10. BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett.

    Poems before Congress …

    London: Chapman and Hall … 1860.

    First edition of a slender collection of seven poems on the cause of Italian independence, and one attacking slavery in the United States (‘A Curse for a Nation’). The Congress of the title had been planned for Paris in January 1860, but Austria withdrew on learning that Napoleon III meant to use...

    £200

  11. 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

  12. [BROWN or BROWNE, Nicholas].

    The North-Country-Wedding, and the Fire, two Poems in blank Verse …

    Dublin: Printed by A. Rhames, for J. Hyde, Bookseller … 1722.

    First and only edition, rare, of the only published work by the Fermanagh-born poet and clergyman Nicholas Brown (1699-1734), misattributed by ESTC to his father. Both pieces are burlesques in the manner of Philips’s The Splendid Shilling, but have their own merit, and were reprinted by Matthew...

    £1250

  13. BYRON, George Gordon, Lord.

    Poems original and translated … Second Edition.

    Newark: Printed and sold by S. and J. Ridge; sold also by B. Crosby and Co … Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme … F. & C. Rivington … and...

    Unacknowledged reprint of the ‘second’ [i.e. first] edition of Poems original and translated, printed by Ridge without Byron’s permission. As the first printing ran out Ridge told Byron that he had reprinted some sheets to make up a few more copies; in fact he was to continue to reprint...

    £550

  14. [BYRON, George Gordon, Lord].

    Lara, a Tale. [and] Jacqueline, a Tale [by Samuel Rogers].

    London: Printed for John Murray … 1814.

    First edition, Randolph’s fourth variant (with the crooked roman numeral on p. 82 and the fallen period on p. 20). By 1814 Byron was heavily pressed by debts, having previously refused payment for his poems. For Lara, the fourth of Byron’s Levantine poems, published on the back of The Corsair...

    £400

  15. CAREY, Henry.

    Poems on several Occasions … Third Edition, much enlarged.

    London: Printed by E. Say, 1729.

    ‘Third edition’, in fact a substantially different work from the two rare (and much less substantial) pamphlet collections of 1713 and 1720. This copy has a single-leaf ‘Additional List of Subscribers’ bound before the main text and not recorded in ESTC.

    £650

  16. CARTWRIGHT, William.

    Comedies, Tragi-comedies, with other Poems … the Ayres and Songs set by Mr Henry Lawes, Servant to his late...

    London, Printed for Humphrey Moseley … 1651.

    First edition of the witty and elegant drama and verse of a celebrated ‘son of Ben’, who said ‘My son Cartwright writes like a man’. According to Evelyn, Charles I reckoned The Royall Slave ‘the best that was ever acted’ after he saw it as the main entertainment on the royal progress...

    £1750

  17. C., E. H.

    On the occasion of a Bazaar held in aid of Funds required for the Completion of the first English Church at Dinan, which...

    [Dinan, 1869?]

    ‘A Church Bazaar takes place to-day, / And for all aid we humbly pray / Tho’ many have giv’n with liberal hands, / A heavy debt against us stands ....’ Dinan, in Britanny, was popular with English visitors for health or leisure, according to the poem, and for many years English services had been...

    £100

  18. CHALKHILL, John.

    Thealma and Clearchus. A pastoral History in smooth and easie Verse. Written long since by John Chalkhill, Esq;...

    London: Printed for Benj. Tooke … 1683.

    First edition, with the corrected state of the title, designating Chalkhill as ‘an acquaintant and friend of Edmund [originally ‘Edward’] Spencer’.

    £1850

  19. CHAMBERLAYNE, William.

    Phraronnida: a heroick Poem …

    London, Printed for Robert Clavell … 1659.

    First edition of the physician-poet William Chamberlayne’s best-known work, a long poem (14,000 lines) in heroic couplets blending Ariosto, Tasso and Greek romances. It deals with the tale of Argalia, a sort of knight errant rescued from the Turks and threatened with execution, and his love for Pharonnida,...

    £2500

  20. CHATSWORTH.

    A Poem; dedicated by Permission, to her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire …

    [London, 1788].

    The subscriber’s edition, on thick paper; there was also a trade edition, disposed in 20 pages and without the inserted leaf, albeit with the same engraved title.

    £850