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. 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

  2. CHRISTENING (The).

    A satirical Poem. In which are contain’d the humorous Transactions, Speeches, and Behaviour of the Guests...

    London: Printed by W. James … 1732.

    First edition of an amusing verse satire on a famous court scandal. In 1732 Anne Vane, mistress of Frederick, Prince of Wales, gave birth to a son. The child, Cornwall Fitz-Frederick, was acknowledged as his, perhaps only as an assertion of his independence from his parents, and paternity was contested...

    £2000

  3. CLARE, John.

    The Village Minstrel, and other Poems …

    London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey … and E. Drury, Stamford. 1821.

    First edition of Clare’s second book of poetry. Published the year after Poems descriptive of rural Life and Scenery (1820), it met with further success, owing in part to public curiosity about the Northamptonshire peasant. A biographical sketch in the Introduction helped to satisfy that curiosity....

    £450

  4. CLARE, John.

    The rural Muse. Poems …

    London, Whittaker & Co. … 1835.

    First edition of Clare’s last collection of poetry, published as he was descending into penury and madness. His previous collection, The Shepherd’s Calendar (1827), had sold badly and Clare found himself with an inclination to drink, but without money. He was committed to Allen’s asylum at High...

    £450

  5. CLARE, John.

    The Shepherd’s Calendar; with Village Stories and other Poems …

    London: Published for John Taylor … by James Duncan … and sold by J. A. Hessey … 1827.

    First edition. The Shepherd’s Calendar was a work of long gestation and many delays, partly because of the inchoate form in which Clare presented his original manuscript to Taylor and partly because of Taylor’s slash and burn editorial policy. Though the work was finally ready by November 1826, the...

    £600

  6. 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

  7. COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor.

    Poems, by S. T. Coleridge, second Edition. To which are now added Poems by Charles Lamb, and Charles Lloyd …

    Printed by N. Biggs, for J. Cottle, Bristol, and Messrs Robinson, London. 1797.

    Second edition of Poems on Various Subjects, 1796, but in large measure a new work, with a third of the former volume omitted and replaced by new material, including the fine ‘Ode on the departing Year’. Thirty-six lines are added to the ‘Monody on the Death of Chatterton’ and other poems...

    £1500

  8. 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

  9. COLERIDGE, S[amuel] T[aylor].

    Poems … second Edition. To which are now added Poems by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd …

    Printed by N. Biggs for J. Cottle, Bristol, and Messrs. Robinsons, London. 1797.

    Second edition of Poems on Various Subjects, 1796, but in large measure a new work, with a third of the former volume omitted and replaced by new material, including the fine ‘Ode on the departing Year’. Thirty-six lines are added to the ‘Monody on the Death of Chatterton’ and other poems are...

    £1200

  10. COLERIDGE, S[amuel] T[aylor].

    The Watchman. No. I [III, IV]. Tuesday, March 1 [17, 25], 1796. Published by the Author …

    Bristol: and sold by the Booksellers and Newscarriers in Town and Country.

    Three (of ten) issues of The Watchman, Coleridge’s first journalistic endeavour, very rare: published in March to May 1796.

    £750

  11. COLLECTION (A)

    of Poems: viz. the Temple of Death: by the Marquis of Normanby with several Original Poems, never before printed,...

    London: Printed for Daniel Brown … and Benjamin Tooke … 1701.

    Fourth edition of the important ‘Temple of Death’ miscellany of Restoration poetry, retaining most of the poems from the third edition (1693) and adding much material, including all the poems on pp. 172-282 – with contributions from Stepney, Arwaker and Congreve – and the poems at the end (pp....

    £500

  12. COLLUTHUS, of Lycopolis.

    The Rape of Helen. Translated from the Greek ... And illustrated with the Notes of Michael Nicander. To...

    London: Printed for and sold by J. Roberts … and by the Booksellers and Pamphletsellers of London, 1731.

    First and only edition, rare, of this translation of Collothus’s Rape of Helen (Αρπαγη Ελενης), ‘a short and charming miniature epic’ (Cambridge Companion to the Epic) written in the late fifth century in Egypt in 392 hexameters.

    £1200

  13. [COOPER, Elizabeth, compiler].

    The Historical and Poetical Medley: or Muses Library; being a choice and faithful Collection of...

    London: Printed for T. Davies … 1738.

    First edition under this title, a reissue of The Muses Library (1737), with a cancel title-page and final leaf. After Elizabeth Cooper’s career as an actor and playwright had been brought to an end by Walpole’s Licensing Act, she set about compiling an anthology of English poetry, from Langland...

    £450

  14. COTTON, Charles.

    The Wonders of the Peak …

    Nottingham: Printed by John Collyer, and sold by H. Cantrel and H. Allestree in Derby. J. Bradley and S. Gunter in Chesterfield, and Mr. Whitworth...

    First Nottingham edition of a poem originally printed in London in 1681, and reprinted in 1683 and 1694. The subject matter may have been suggested to Cotton by Thomas Hobbes’s Latin poem De mirabilibus Pecci (c. 1627, reprinted with an English translation in 1678). Apart from the scenery of...

    £1250

  15. COTTON, Charles.

    Poems on several Occasions …

    London, Printed for Tho. Basset … Will. Hensman and Tho. Fox … 1689.

    First edition of the principal collection of original poetry by Charles Cotton, an ‘oddly isolated and under-valued poet ... there is more and better poetry in the 1689 volume than is to be found in any other minor poet of the Restoration’ (James Sutherland, Restoration Literature). Cotton’s most...

    £600

  16. [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

  17. [COWPER, Ashley, editor].

    The Norfolk poetical Miscellany. To which are added some select Essays and Letters in Prose. Never printed...

    London: Printed for the Author, and sold by J. Stagg … 1744.

    First edition. This lively miscellany, containing a large number of amusing short poems (but nothing for the libertine), was assembled by William Cowper’s uncle, the father of Theodora, later Lady Hesketh, with whom the poet fell in love. The dedication to the young Lady Caroline [Cowper] is subscribed...

    £1250

  18. COWPER, William.

    Poems … London: printed for J. Johnson … 1782. [With:]

    _________. The Task, a Poem, in six Books...

    London, 1782-5.

    First edition of each volume, with the notoriously rare suppressed preface by John Newton.

    £8000

  19. CRABBE, George.

    The News-Paper: a Poem ...

    London: Printed for J. Dodsley ... 1785.

    First edition of this nicely turned satire by Jane Austen’s favourite poet. Crabbe tells us in his preface that he believes this to be the first poem ever on the subject of the daily press with its ‘variety of dissociating articles ... huddled together’, advertisements, puffing, and correspondents...

    £1200

  20. [DARTON, William, senior].

    Little Jack of all Trades; or, mechanical Arts described, in Prose and Verse, suited to the Capacities...

    London: Printed for Harvey and Darton … 1823.

    First collected edition, first published in two separate parts 1804 and 1805 and several times reprinted. The engraved vignettes are different from those in the separate printings, and the contents are slightly rearranged.

    £250