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. 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

  2. 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

  3. [ZOUCHE, Richard].

    The Sophister. A Comedy …

    London: Printed by J. O. for Humphrey Mosley, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1639.

    First edition, attributed to Richard Zouche, Regius professor of civil law at Oxford from 1620 until his death. Only two literary works are credited to Zouche (1590-1651), a poem The Dove: or Passages of Cosmography (1613), and the present play, with its resoundingly legal vocabulary.

    £2500

  4. BEAUMONT, Francis, and John FLETCHER.

    The Tragedy of Thierry King of France, and his Brother Theodoret. As it was diverse Times...

    London, Printed for Humphrey Moseley ... 1649

    Third edition, a reissue of the second quarto (1648) with the title-page cancelled by a new title and a new conjugate prologue and epilogue leaf. Oddly the prologue had already appeared prefixed to The Noble Gentleman in the Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647, and the epilogue at the end of James...

    £1850

  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. 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

  7. DENHAM, Sir John.

    Poems and Translations, with The Sophy ... .

    London, Printed for H. Herringman ... 1668

    First edition, the definitive collection, published the year before the author’s death, containing 25 pieces, fourteen of them new. It begins with Denham’s famous topographical poem, Cooper’s Hill. The bawdy ‘Dialogue between Sir John Pooley and Mr. Thomas Killigrew’, about Killigrew’s...

    £1100

  8. 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

  9. OTWAY, Thomas.

    Venice preserv’d, or a Plot discover’d. A Tragedy. As it is acted at the Duke’s Theatre …

    London, Printed for Jos. Hindmarsh … 1682.

    First edition of perhaps the finest tragedy of the Restoration stage. No play has ‘been revived more often ... save those of Shakespeare’ (Pforzheimer). The play was first performed in February 1682 by the Duke of York’s company at Dorset Garden; and it was staged again in April to welcome the...

    £750

  10. ROCHESTER, John Wilmot, Earl of.

    Valentinian: a Tragedy. As ’tis alter’d by the late Earl of Rochester, and acted at the Theatre-Royal....

    London: Printed for Timothy Goodwin … 1685.

    First edition, as altered by Rochester from John Fletcher’s revenge tragedy, based loosely on events in the reign of the weak and dissolute Roman emperor Valentinian III, and his murder (written c.1610-14, printed 1647). Rochester’s intended title was Lucina’s Rape, the central incident...

    £650

  11. [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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. [MOZEEN, Thomas].

    Young Scarron.

    London: Printed and sold by T. Trye ... and W. Reeve ... 1752.

    First edition of one of the earliest English theatrical novels, schematically based on Scarron’s Roman comique, and dedicated to the managers of the London theatres. Mozeen was himself a successful strolling player. The narrative follows Bob Loveplay and Will Glitter as they lead a troupe of...

    £650

  15. [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

  16. JONSON, Ben.

    The Works … in seven Volumes. Collated with all the former Editions, and corrected; with Notes critical and explanatory....

    London: Printed for D. Midwinter [and sixteen others] … 1756.

    First critical edition of Jonson’s works. The text is based largely on the edition of 1717, but also makes use of quartos from Garrick’s library, in particular adding for the first time one of the playwright’s earliest works, ‘the lost or forgotten’ play The Case is Altered (1609).

    £550

  17. 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

  18. SHERIDAN, Richard Brinsley.

    The Rivals, a Comedy. As it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden.

    London: Printed for John Wilkie … 1775.

    First edition of the play that introduced Mrs. Malaprop to the English stage.

    £500

  19. [SHERIDAN, Richard Brinsley].

    The School for Scandal. A Comedy …

    ‘Dublin: Printed for J. Ewling.’ [1790s?]

    The undated Ewling edition of The School for Scandal, for a long time believed to be the first edition, but now thought later. With the London cast-list.

    £600

  20. 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