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. ANTHONY, Gordon.

    Ballet. Camera Studies by Gordon Anthony. With an introduction and notes by Arnold Haskell.

    London, Geoffrey Bles, 1937.

    The deluxe edition, no. 77 of 100 copies, signed by Anthony on the half-title verso. There was also a trade edition.

    £350

  2. ARISTOPHANES.

    The Birds … Translated by the Rev. Henry Francis Cary … With Notes.

    London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey … 1824.

    First edition. ‘Given how much there is in Aristophanes to outrage and violate nineteenth-century manners and sensibilities, it may seem surprising how popular he was. The popularity came at the price of bowdlerizing much of the “grossness”, but there was admiration and even a certain yearning...

    £350

  3. [JOHNSON, Charles].

    Caelia: or, the perjur’d Lover. A Play. As it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, by His Majesty’s...

    London: Printed for J. Watts … 1733.

    First edition. Caelia, Johnson’s last theatrical production, is an attack on the fashionable libertinism of the day. As the Preface explains, however, he refused to take Barton Booth’s advice and expunge the vivid brothel scenes, and a fastidious audience answered with their pockets. The play,...

    £200

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. ETHEREGE, George.

    The comical Revenge, or Love in a Tub. Acted at his Highness the Duke of York’s Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields ...

    London, Printed for Henry Herringman ... 1669.

    Fourth edition of Etherege’s first play, preceded by two editions of 1664 and one of 1667; this is the scarcer of two printings for Herringman in 1669, with ‘fields’ rather than ‘Fields’ in the title, and the catchword ‘hope’ not ‘the’ on A2r.

    £500

  7. [LAGARENNE, Félicité, artist].

    [Costumes d’Ivanhoe au bal donné par ... le prince et princess d’Orange à Bruxelles, mercredi...

    Brussels, 1823.

    First and only edition of a fine and rare suite of ten hand-coloured lithographs commemorating a ball inspired by Scott's Ivanhoe, held in Brussels on 5 February 1823 by the Prince and Princess of Orange in honour of the British community in that city. There were thirty-two guests at the ball,...

    £1200

  8. [LANDOR, Walter Savage].

    Count Julian: a Tragedy.

    London: Printed for John Murray … by James Moyes … 1812.

    First edition of Landor’s first play, unacted, but a succès d’éstime, published in ‘a small edition’ (Oxford DNB). The episode in Spanish history which it treats – the vengeance taken by Don Julián, 8th-century ruler of Ceuta, against Roderigo, King of the Goths, who has dishonoured...

    £450

  9. TENNYSON, Alfred, Lord.

    The Cup and the Falcon.

    London: Macmillan and Co. 1884.

    First published edition, preceded by a ‘trial’ edition of 1882 recorded by Wise as surviving in one known copy – in his own collection. The Cup was first performed in 1881 with Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. Wise, Tennyson 146; Tinker 2096.

    £75

  10. GAY, John.

    The Distress’d Wife. A Comedy. By the late Mr. Gay, Author of the Beggar’s Opera.

    London: Printed for Thomas Astley … 1743.

    First edition, the issue with no press figures on pp. 8, 39, press figure p. 56: 3 (no priority). Gay’s comedy of the sexes revolves around Sir Thomas Willit’s attempts to inveigle his wife to leave London for the country, in order to reign-in her expenditure. Lady Willit abhors the idea, ‘Sure...

    £350

  11. CAREY, Henry.

    The Dramatick Works …

    London: Printed by S. Gilbert, 1743.

    First collected edition, published in the year of Carey’s death, with his final revisions, ‘not only free from the errors of false and spurious editions, published without my knowledge and consent, but (upon this occasion) revised and improv’d, even from my own original copies’.

    £650

  12. FARMER, Richard.

    An Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare: addressed to Joseph Craddock, Esq; …

    ambridge: Printed by J. Archdeacon, Printer to the University; for W. Thurlbourn & J. Woodyer, in Cambridge; and sold by J. Beecroft …...

    First edition of an important contribution to eighteenth-century Shakespeare scholarship. Farmer argues forcefully that Shakespeare relied on translations of Greek and Latin authors, not the originals, echoing their phraseology and even their errors. ‘He remembered perhaps enough of his school-boy...

    £650

  13. RICHARDSON, Joseph.

    The Fugitive: a Comedy. As it is performed at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket …

    London: Printed for J. Debrett … 1792.

    First edition of the first play by Sheridan’s friend, the writer and politican Joseph Richardson, proprietor of the Morning Post and later of the Drury Lane Theatre (by 1796 he had a £12,000 stake); this is the second issue, with sheets K-M reset to add extra dialogue to Act V, scene I.

    £100

  14. [TALFOURD, Thomas Noon].

    Ion; a Tragedy, in five Acts. To which are added a few Sonnets. Second Edition.

    London: Printed by A. J. Valpy ... for private Circulation. Not published. [1835]

    Second private edition of Talfourd’s blank verse tragedy, adding a small group of eight sonnets not in the first edition (also privately printed, 1835), and with a new preface: ‘Having exhausted the small impression which was originally printed of Ion, and finding that there are yet friends in whose...

    £250

  15. LAMB, Charles.

    John Woodvil a Tragedy ... to which are added, Fragments of Burton, the Author of the Anatomy of Melancholy.

    London: Printed by T. Plummer ... for G. and J. Robinson ... 1802.

    First edition. John Woodvil was Charles Lamb’s first play (or dramatic poem), regarded by him at one time as his ‘finest effort’, a ‘medley (as I intend it to be a medley) of laughter and tears, prose and verse, and in some places rhyme, songs, wit, pathos, humour, and, if possible, sublimity’...

    £1250

  16. NORTH, Francis.

    The Kentish Barons: a Play, in three Acts. Interspersed with Songs … First performed at the Theatre-Royal, Hay-Market,...

    London: Printed for J. Ridgway … 1791.

    First edition, a political drama by the future fourth Earl of Guildford, son of the Prime Minister, partly in verse; ‘the airs were composed by Miss Monk, a dilettante and very dilettante-like music it was. The language was bold and poetical, and written in elegant blank verse; but, owing to the inferiority...

    £100

  17. [THEATRE].

    La locanda commedia da rappresentarsi in Firenze nel Teatro di Via del Cocomero nell’autunno dell’anno 1756.

    Florence, Pietro Gaetano Viviani, 1756.

    Sole edition, extremely rare (no other copy listed in library catalogues), of this three-act comedy, a notable example of the new Italian comedy inspired by Goldoni. This work appears to echo Goldoni’s La vedova scaltra (1748), while developing the plot and the theme along original trajectories....

    £700

  18. TENNYSON, Alfred, Lord.

    Locksley Hall Sixty Years after etc.

    London: Macmillan and Co. … 1886.

    First edition. Wise, Tennyson 156; Tinker 2098.

    £60

  19. KINNAIRD, Douglas.

    The Merchant of Bruges; or, Beggar’s Bush. With considerable Alterations and Additions. Now performing, with...

    London: Printed for Whittingham and Arliss ... 1815

    First edition of the only literary work by the intimate friend and banker of Lord Byron, who dedicated Hebrew Melodies to him in 1815. The play was produced at Drury Lane where both served on the Committee, dedicated to Lady Caroline Lamb’s brother-in-law (who contributed three songs), and has...

    £250

  20. BARON, Robert.

    Mirza. A Tragedie, really acted in Persia, in the last Age. Illustrated with historicall Annotations.

    London: Printed for Humphrey Moseley … [1655?].

    First edition of Baron’s last literary endeavour, a violent revenge tragedy influenced by Jonson’s Catiline, mostly in verse, packed with political intrigue, murders ‘and Seraglio’s too’, all fitting subjects for its exotic setting. Not intended for performance, which been impossible...

    £850