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. PARADIN, Guillaume.

    Gulielmi Paradini Anchemani Epigrammata ...

    Lyons, Ant. Gryphius, 1581.

    First and only edition of this French historian’s poetry including verses about or addressed to Ronsard, Pontus de Tyard, Claude Rouillet, and the Lyons printers Sébastien and Antoine Gryphe, and Jean de Tournes.

    £950

  2. CHAUCER, Geoffrey.

    The Workes of our ancient and learned English Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, newly printed. To that which was done...

    London, Printed by Adam Islip. An. Dom. 1602.

    Second Thomas Speght edition (sixth collected edition), revised much for the better by Francis Thynne; this is the variant with Adam Islip rather than George Bishop in the imprint. The portrait of Chaucer, which first appeared in the Speght edition of 1598, is the first engraved representation of the poet.

    £6000

  3. 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

  4. SPENSER, Edmund.

    The Faerie Queen: The Shepheards Calendar: together with the other Works of England’s Arch-Poët, Edm. Spenser:...

    Printed by H. L. for Mathew Lownes ... 1611 [-1613].

    First collected edition, second issue, of the ‘first of the English poets of our age, as his poems prove, written under the smile of the Muses, and with a genius destined to live’ (William Camden). This volume contains all of Spenser’s poetical works including Prosopopoia or Mother Hubberds Tale,...

    £850

  5. FULLER, Thomas.

    Davids hainous Sinne. Heartie Repentance. Heavie Punishment …

    London, Printed by Tho. Cotes, for John Bellamie … 1631.

    First and only edition of Fuller’s first book, and his only volume of verse. It is a three-part poem written in a variation of rhyme royal, recounting King David’s adultery with Bathsheba and its consequences.

    £3750

  6. WITHER, George.

    The Psalmes of David translated into Lyrick-Verse, according to the Scope, of the Original, and illustrated, with...

    [Amsterdam:] Imprinted in the Netherlands by Cornelis Gerrits van Breughel, 1632.

    First edition, dedicated to Princess Elizabeth, the ‘Winter Queen’, daughter of James I. The translation, a companion to Wither’s Hymnes and Songs of the Church, was written at the request of James, and finished shortly before his death in 1625: ‘I was commanded to perfect a Translation...

    £3200

  7. DONNE, John.

    Poems … with Elegies on the Authors Death …

    London. Printed by M. F. for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1633.

    First edition of what may arguably be called the greatest poetical collection of the seventeenth century. This is the issue (precedence not established, but presumably the first) without the inserted leaves 2A2 (‘The Printer to the Understanders’ and ‘Hexastichon Bibliopolae’) and with Nn1 in...

    £15000

  8. WITHER, George.

    Juvenilia. A Collection of those Poemes which were heretofore imprinted, and written by George Wither.

    London Printed for Robert Allott … 1633.

    Second collected edition, very scarce, much expanded from the first edition of 1622, adding Wither’s Motto and Faire Virtue or the Maid of Philarete.

    £1500

  9. MAY, Thomas.

    The Reigne of King Henry the Second, written in seaven Bookes. By His Majesties Command.

    London: Printed by A. M. and John Beale for Benjamin Fisher … 1633.

    First edition of a verse history dedicated to Charles I. May’s literary career had begun with his translation of Lucan’s strongly anti-imperial Pharsalia (1626-7), which also influenced several of his stage tragedies. But his republicanism was muted thereafter, and indeed his Continuation...

    £1850

  10. 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

  11. [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

  12. DONNE, John.

    Poems … with Elegies on the authors Death …

    London, Printed by M. F. for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1635.

    Second edition, adding seventeen new poems by Donne (and eleven false attributions), and three more elegies on his death. The poems have been rearranged into sections, headed ‘Songs and Sonets’, ‘Elegies’, ‘Epithalamions’. ‘Satyres’, and ‘Letters’, ‘Divine Poems’, etc. Two poems...

    £4500

  13. SANDYS, George.

    A Paraphrase upon the Psalmes of David and upon the Hymnes dispersed throughout the Old and New Testaments …

    London … 1636.

    First edition, a fine copy of these psalm paraphrases by the poet and adventurer George Sandys (1578-1644) who was hailed by Dryden as ‘the best versifier’ of his age.

    £2250

  14. RANDOLPH, Thomas.

    Poems with the Muses Looking-Glasse: and Amyntas …

    Oxford, Printed by Leonard Lichfield … for Francis Bowman: 1638.

    First edition of the major collection – pastoral, erotic, and festive verse, followed by two plays – of one of the more illustrious of the ‘sons of Ben’, published two years after his death some three months short of his thirtieth birthday. Randolph began his literary career at Trinity College,...

    £2250

  15. SANDYS, George.

    A Paraphrase upon the divine Poems …

    London, At the Bell in St. Pauls Churchyard. 1638. [Colophon: London, Printed by John Legatt 1637.]

    First edition, the issue with the Dedication to Charles I on the title-verso.

    £900

  16. OVERBURY, Sir Thomas.

    Sir Thomas Overbury His Wife. With Additions of new Characters, and many other Witty Conceits never before...

    London, Printed by John Haviland, for A. Crooke … 1638.

    Sixteenth edition of the most popular character book of the early seventeenth century.

    £600

  17. [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

  18. WALLER, Edmund.

    Poems, &c. written by Mr. Ed. Waller … and printed by a Copy of his own Hand-Writing. All the lyrick Poems in...

    London, Printed by I. N. for Hu. Mosley … 1645.


    Second, first licensed, edition of Waller’s first and most important collection, published while he was in exile, and shortly preceded by an unlicensed volume, Workes (London, Thomas Walkley, 1645) (Wing W 495) – ‘an adulterate Copy, surreptitiously and illegally imprinted, to the derogation...

    £850

  19. 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

  20. LOVELACE, Richard.

    Lucasta: Epodes, Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c. To which is added Aramantha, a Pastorall …

    London, Printed by Tho. Harper, and are to be sold by Tho. Evvster … 1649

    First edition of one of the great collections of seventeenth-century English poetry, and the only collection published in the author’s lifetime. This copy has the earlier state of B2, with ‘Warres’ (rather than ‘Wars’) in the heading of the well-known ‘Song … To Lucasta on going to the...

    £2000