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. [WARTON, Thomas, the younger].

    The Pleasures of Melancholy. A Poem …

    London: Printed for R. Dodsley … and sold by M. Cooper … 1747.

    First edition of Warton’s second publication, preceded by Five Pastoral Eclogues (1745), and written at that time, though Warton also contributed to his brother Joseph’s Odes on various Subjects (1746). The Pleasures of Melancholy was Warton’s first major poem, a meditative...

    £400

  2. [WESTMINSTER ELECTION.]

    A True and impartial Collection of Pieces, in Prose and Verse, which have been written and published on...

    London: Printed for W. Owen … 1749.

    First edition. A compilation of open letters to the electorate of Westminster, written during the violent 1749 election campaign. Despite the brutality which characterised the election the editor hopes the letters might be impartially considered for their merits: ‘As many smart pieces were written...

    £750

  3. [WICQUET, Antoine-Marie Grillaud du, Vicomte D’Ordre].

    Precis elementaire de Morale. / Elements of Morality, or Ethics epitomized.

    Chelsea: Printed by D[ennett] Jaques, at the Neat Houses. Sold by the Author, No. 28, Robinson’s

    First edition, rare, a parallel-text guide to ethics in prose and verse, by an émigré aristocrat. A version of the text was apparently ‘first printed at Boulogne in 1789 for the use of his own children’, though no copies have survived. In any case the present edition was much expanded, adding ‘historical...

    £1350

  4. WILLIAMS, Anna.

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse …

    London: Printed for T. Davies … 1766.

    First edition, scarce, of the blind poet Anna Williams’s Miscellanies, bound with the first edition of a volume of fifty Latin poems by Samuel Bishop.

    £3250

  5. WILMOT, John and Wentworth DILLON.

    The Miscellaneous Works of the Right Honourable the late Earls of Rochester and Roscommon. With...

    London Printed: and sold by B. Bragge … 1707.

    First edition, oddly scarce, of the combined works of Rochester and Roscommon, prefaced by Evremont’s lively biographical account of Rochester. This collection formed the basis of most later-eighteenth-century editions (though without the second part, the miscellany of poems by others). It is the...

    £1250

  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. 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

  8. WITHER, George.

    Speculum Speculativum: or, a Considering-Glasse; being an Inspection into the present and late sad Condition of...

    London, Written June XIII. MDCLX. and there Imprinted the same year [1660].

    The third of three editions in the same year, from an entirely new setting of type, with ‘Glasse’ rather than ‘Glass’ on the title-page, the errata formerly printed on L8 corrected, and the errors corrected in the caption title on p. 1

    £525

  9. WORDSWORTH, William.

    The White Doe of Rylstone; or the Fate of the Nortons. A Poem …

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown … by James Ballantyne and Co., Edinburgh. 1815.

    First edition. ‘During the summer of 1807, the Author visited, for the first time, the beautiful Scenery that surrounds Bolton Priory, in Yorkshire; and the Poem of The White Doe, founded upon a Tradition connected with the place, was composed at the close of the same year.’ (Advertisement). The...

    £1350

  10. WORDSWORTH, William.

    Poems, in two Volumes … Vol. I [-II] …

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme … 1807.

    First edition. Much of Wordsworth’s most memorable verse is first printed here, including ‘She was a Phantom of Delight’, ‘Resolution and Independence’, the sonnets ‘Nuns fret not ...’, ‘It is a beauteous Evening, calm and free’, ‘Composed upon Westminster Bridge’ (‘Earth hath...

    £1400

  11. WORDSWORTH, William.

    Lyrical Ballads, with a Pastoral and other Poems, in two Volumes … Third Edition.

    London: Printed for T. N. Longman and O. Rees … by Riggs and Cottle …. 1802.

    Second complete edition, with the Preface much enlarged and a new ‘Appendix’ on poetic diction (pp. 237-247 in volume II), one of the key theoretical texts of English Romanticism. For this edition, two poems were omitted, Coleridge’s ‘The Dungeon’ and Wordsworth’s ‘A Character’, several...

    £3000

  12. WORDSWORTH, William [and Samuel Taylor COLERIDGE].

    Lyrical Ballads, with other Poems. In two volumes … second Edition. London:...

    by Biggs and Co. Bristol. 1800.

    Second, definitive, and first complete edition of Lyrical Ballads. To volume I (first published at Bristol in 1798, reissued in London in the same year) Wordsworth added his famous preface, the manifesto of the Romantic movement – calling for, among other things, a poetry of ‘common life’, adopting...

    £5000

  13. [WRIGHT, George].

    The rural Christian; or, the Pleasures of Religion. An allegorical Poem: In four Books. To which are added, sylvan...

    London: Printed for J. Buckland … 1772.

    First edition of this volume of devotional pastoral verse, promoting the countryside as the ideal setting for Christian contemplation.

    £475

  14. WYCHERLEY, William.

    The Posthumous Works … in Prose and Verse. Faithfully publish’d from his original Manuscripts, by Mr. Theobald....

    London: Printed for A. Bettesworth, J. Osborn, W. Mears, W. and J. Innys, J. Peele, T. Woodward; and F. Clay. 1728.

    First edition of an important collection, comprising 308 maxims, one short essay and a large number of previously unpublished poems (the third paginated sequence), based on manuscripts acquired from Captain Thomas Shrimpton, Wycherley’s sole executor.

    £850

  15. WYCHERLEY, William.

    Miscellany Poems: As Satyrs, Epistles, Love-Verses, Songs, Sonnets, &c ...

    London, Printed for C. Brome ... J. Taylor ... and B. Tooke ... 1704.

    First edition of a substantial collection of previously unpublished poems, edited from Wycherley’s manuscripts in a last-ditch attempt to relieve him from debt. ‘It was badly misjudged. Poems on a womans’s “Fair Back-Side” and on another’s “Fine Breasts” were entirely at odds with the...

    £875

  16. [YOUNG, Edward].

    The Works of the Author of the Night-Thoughts. In four Volumes. Revised and Corrected by Himself. A new Edition....

    London: 1774-8.

    First complete edition, comprising a new edition of volumes I-IV, reprinting the revised authorized edition of 1757 (in which Young collected his ‘most excusable’ pieces, with corrections to render them ‘as pardonable as it was in my power to do’); the posthumous fifth volume, originally published...

    £500