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. ROSCOMMON, Wentworth Dillon, Earl of.

    An Essay on Translated Verse … London, Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1684.

    London, Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1684

    First edition. Roscommon’s influential Essay, in heroic couplets, owes much to Boileau and to the author’s own education in France after the attainder of his kinsman the Earl of Strafford. Dryden, an intimate friend and himself the translator of Boileau’s Art of Poetry in the preceding year, contributes...

    £450

  2. SANDERSON, Thomas.

    Original Poems …

    Carlisle, Printed by F. Jollie; and sold by W. Clarke, J. Robson, and R. Faulder, London. 1800.

    This collection, ‘written in a sequestered village’, includes ‘Shakespeare, the Warwickshire Thief’, ‘Elegy to the memory of Robert Burns the Scottish poet’, ‘Sonnet to the Right Hon. Edmund Burke’, and ‘Ode to the Genius of Cumberland’. Thomas Sanderson (1759-1829) was a schoolmaster...

    £350

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. [SANDYS, John].

    The Salopian Zealot: or, the good Vicar in a bad Mood. By John the Dipper …

    Sold by G. Keith, and J. Buckland, in London;— T. Evans, Bristol; and by the Booksellers in Salop, Liverpool, &c. [1778].

    First edition of a lively verse contribution to an increasingly acrimonious pamphlet war between Baptists. When Samuel Medley preached on the necessity of adult baptism, Richard De Courcy replied with his Letter to a Baptist-Minister (Shrewsbury, 1776) insisting on infant baptism. More pamphlets...

    £575

  6. SCOTT, Sir Walter.

    The Vision of Don Roderick; a Poem ... Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Co. for John Ballantyne ...

    Edinburgh; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, London. 1811

    First trade edition, third impression (correcting the pagination), preceded by a private edition described as ‘Author’s Copy’ on the title-page.

    £450

  7. [SHEFFIELD, John, Earl of Mulgrave, afterwards Duke of Buckingham].

    An Essay upon Poetry.

    London, Printed for Joseph Hindmarsh … 1682.

    First edition, a verse satire in imitation of Horace’s Ars Poetica. There are indirect attacks on Rochester (‘Bawdry barefac’d, that poor pretence to Wit’), and Cowley, who has poetic fury but ‘ill expression’, while Sheffield reserves praise for Dryden, who took the blame for Sheffield’s...

    £1200

  8. SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe.

    Queen Mab.

    London: Printed and published by W. Clark ... 1821

    Second (first published edition) of Shelley’s most provocative poem. The radical bookseller and pirate William Clark came across a copy of the privately-printed first edition in 1821 and brought out this unauthorized text, ‘studious in adhering to the original copy’, printing the notes in French,...

    £950

  9. 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

  10. SHELLEY, [Percy Bysshe].

    Poetical Works.

    London. Charles Daly … [c. 1839].

    Undated variant (presumably a later reissue) of Daly’s collected edition of 1839, read to pieces by the young Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

    This volume has a well-documented history. Dante Gabriel consciously ‘adopted a nonchalantly bohemian lifestyle, rejecting his mother’s evangelical...

    £2000

  11. SHENSTONE, William.

    The Works, in Verse and Prose… in three Volumes … Fifth Edition …

    London: Printed for J. Dodsley … 1777.

    Fifth edition of the Works (1764), the first edition of which was planned by Shenstone but published after his death, with Robert Dodsley’s description of Shenstone’s important garden at The Leasowes, one of the first natural landscape gardens in England and one of the most influential, and with...

    £325

  12. SHERBURNE, Sir Edward.

    Salmacis, Lyrian & Sylvia, Forsaken Lydia, the Rape of Helen, a Comment thereon, with severall other Poems...

    London, Printed by W. Hunt, for Thomas Dring ... 1651.

    First edition of a charming book of Caroline poetry, original and translated, in a most sympathetic and well-preserved collector’s binding. This is the first issue; it was reissued in the same year under the title Poems and Translations, amorous, lusory, morall, divine, reflecting the divisional titles...

    £4250

  13. [SHIPLEY, William].

    Comparative Observations on two of the Poems which were honoured with Prizes in a late Certamen at Ch. Ch....

    York: Printed in theYear 1767

    First edition of an undergraduate prank in which the future Dean of St. Asaph ridicules the awarding of prizes by the Dean of Christ Church and his fellow judges to two Latin poems written in honour of a visit by the Prince of Brunswick. An ironic dedication to the Dean is followed by the text of the...

    £350

  14. SOUTHEY, Robert.

    The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale …

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown … 1816.

    First trade edition of Southey’s laureate ode on the occasion of the marriage of Princess Charlotte to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, dedicated to her. There was also a private edition in octavo on large paper. Tinker 1962.

    £200

  15. 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

  16. SPORTSMAN’S EVENING BRUSH (The),

    consisting of the best and most approved Songs, of the Chace; ancient and modern (some entirely...

    London; Printed for J. Roach … and sold by all the Booksellers in Great-Britain and Ireland. [1791-2?]

    First edition of a scarce compilation of hunting songs and toasts to venery (in both its senses).

    £1250

  17. STATIUS, Publius Papinus.

    The Thebaid … translated into English Verse, with Notes and Observations and a Dissertation upon the...

    Oxford, Printed at the Clarendon Press. 1767.

    First edition: ‘the most successful English rendering of Statius’ Thebaid’ (Sowerby), translated into heroic couplets by William Lillington Lewis. ‘Ably captur[ing] the sublimity, eeriness, and violence of the original’, it was to be his only work (Oxford DNB).

    £1100

  18. STEWART, Charles Edward.

    A Collection of Trifles in Verse …

    Sudbury, Printed by J. Burkitt. 1797.

    First edition, a curious collection of occasional verse with a flippant introduction and a contents list with ‘Friendly criticisms’ on the poems: ‘Epistle to Mr. Burke … Long and dull’, ‘The New System … Stupid’, ‘A Doggerel Ode to the Revolution Society … Answers to...

    £450

  19. [SWIFT, Jonathan].

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse.

    London: Printed for John Morphew ... 1711.

    First edition, ordinary paper issue, the very rare first state, with G6-7 preserved (though slashed for cancellation); the cancellans was printed on A8, not here present.

    £1250

  20. SWIFT, Jonathan.

    The Works of J. S, D. D, D. S. P. D. in four Volumes … In this Edition are great Alterations and Additions;...

    Dublin: Printed by and for George Faulkner, Printer and Bookseller … 1735.

    First 12mo. edition of the first collected Works of Swift, preceded by octavo edition earlier in the year. Here the chronological arrangement in volumes I and II has been altered and one piece, ‘Prometheus’ (a later insertion), moved from volume IV to its correct place in volume II.

    £1250