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. BURNEY, Charles.

    An Account of the musical Performances in Westminster-Abbey, and the Pantheon, May 26th, 27th, 29th; and June...

    London, Printed for the Benefit of the musical Fund; and sold by T. Payne and Son ... 1785.

    First edition. The Handel Commemoration Concerts of 1784, conceived the previous year by Viscount Fitzwilliam, Sir Watkins Williams Wynn and Joah Bates to celebrate the centenary of the birth of George Frederick Handel, were performances on a scale then unprecedented in England. On the morning of Wednesday...

    £1250

  2. GAY, John.

    Achilles. An Opera. As it is perform’d at the Theatre-Royal in Covent Garden ... with the Musick prefix’d to each Song.

    London: Printed for J. Watts ... 1733.

    First edition of Gay’s last ballad opera; he was arranging for its production at the time of his death. The work is a farcical burlesque of classical myth, in which Achilles, dressed as a woman, is admitted to the court of Lycomedes, who falls in love with him while he in turn is trying to woo Deidamia....

    £400

  3. ESSAY UPON MODERN GALLANTRY (AN).

    Address’d to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a seasonable Admonition...

    London: Printed for A. More … 1726.

    Second edition, unrecorded, published in the same year as the first – apparently from the same setting of type with the title-page altered to add the edition statement.

    £1000

  4. HALL, Major Herbert Byng.

    The Adventures of a Bric-a-Brac Hunter …

    London: Tinsley Brothers … 1868.

    First edition of a charming travel guide to Europe for the dilletante porcelain collector; some of the sketches that make up the book first appeared in the Belgravia magazine.

    £275

  5. [HILL, ‘Sir’ John].

    The Adventures of Mr. George Edwards, a Creole.

    London: Printed for T. Osborne ... 1751.

    First edition of a novel written in the year that the self-styled ‘Sir’ John Hill, apothecary and quack, began writing the ‘Inspector’ essays that turned into the contrived and then real ‘paper war’ with Fielding and Smart.

    £1500

  6. LE SAGE, Alain René.

    The Adventures of Robert Chevalier, call’d de Beauchene. Captain of a Privateer in New-France ... In two...

    London: Printed and Sold by T. Gardner ... R. Dodsley ... and M. Cooper ... 1745.

    First edition in English of Les avantures de monsieur Robert Chevalier (1732), a rousing tale by the master of the picaresque, the author of Gil Blas.

    £2400

  7. [SMOLLETT, Tobias].

    The Adventures of Roderick Random … in two Volumes … The second Edition.

    London: Printed for J. Osborn … 1748.

    Second edition, with ‘major imaginative changes’, and frontispieces which appear here for the first time. Even though there were only a few weeks between the first and second editions, Smollett found time to make a number of significant corrections in the text, on average about one substantive change...

    £500

  8. BROUGHAM, Henry Lord.

    Albert Lunel. A Novel ... In three Volumes ...

    London: Charles H. Clarke ... [1872].

    First edition, Sadleir’s ‘really scarce’ fourth state, with (instead of the half-titles) the following notice: ‘“Albert Lunel” was written by the late Lord Brougham in the years Eighteen Hundred and Forty-four, but for private reasons of his Lordship’s, was not published. London, March...

    £450

  9. LINDSETH, Jon A., and Alan TANNENBAUM, eds.

    Alice in a World of Wonderlands: the Translations of Lewis Carroll’s Masterpiece.

    Newcastle, DE, Oak Knoll Press, 2015.

    This is the most extensive analysis ever done of translations of any single English language novel. On 4 October 1866 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson/Lewis Carroll wrote to his publisher Macmillan stating "Friends here [in Oxford] seem to think that the book is untranslatable." But his friends were wrong, as...

    £199

  10. POCKLINGTON, John.

    Altare Christianum: or, the dead Vicar’s Plea. Wherein the Vicar of Gr. being dead, yet speaketh, and pleadeth...

    London, Printed by Richard Badger. 1637.

    First edition, from the library of Robert Southey, with an ownership inscription an eleven-line note in his distinctive diminutive hand.

    £3750

  11. [DUCRAY-DUMINIL, François Guillaume].

    Ambrose and Eleanor; or, the Adventures of two Children deserted on an uninhabited Island....

    London: Printed for R. and L. Peacock, at the Juvenile Library … and sold by Hookham and Carpenter … and C. Law … 1797

    Second English edition (first 1796), a translation of Lolotte et Fanfan (1788). Lucy Peacock kept a shop on Oxford Street which stocked her own and other juvenile tales. Lolotte et Fanfan (1788) evidently appealed for its didactic potential, but required significant editing: ‘many characters...

    £425

  12. [CASTILLO Y SORIANO, José del.]

    Amor á la creacion. Poesia dedicada á la Sociedad Madrileña Protectora de los Animales y de...

    Madrid, Sociedad de Tipógrafos, 1879.

    Very rare survival: a poem in twenty-four stanzas each of five lines devoted to the celebration of animals and plants, dedicated to the Madrid Society for the protection of nature, and publicly read by the actress Carolina Civili on the occasion of the May 1879 exhibition of plants and birds....

    £500

  13. JACOMB, Charles Ernest.

    And a new earth. A romance.

    London, George Routledge & Sons, 1926.

    First edition. A post-apocalyptic fantasy novel relating the history of a utopian island that survived a ‘second flood’ in 1958, which destroyed the world’s civilization and reduced the human population to just 10,000. The island was re-discovered by the New World Fleet in 2832, 872 years after...

    £75

  14. BUQUOY, Georg Franz August de Longueval, Freiherr von Vaux, Graf von.

    Anregungen für philosophisch-wissenschaftliche Forschung...

    Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1825.

    First edition, rare, of a comprehensive discussion by the author of his personal philosophy, with c. 50 pages of his poetry thrown in at the end for good measure. Samuel Hahnemann refers to the work in Die chronischen Krankheiten (1828–30), calling Buquoy a ‘deep-thinking, many-sided scholar and...

    £950

  15. [POETRY.]

    Anthology of manuscript floriographic poetry.

    June 1853.

    A collection of twenty-six apparently unpublished poems in manuscript, presented as an alphabetical acrostic. The poems express the perfection and the language of flowers – that is, the meaning embodied by each variety. Examples given here include ox-eye for patience, quince blossom for temptation,...

    £250

  16. HOMERIC HYMN (THE)

    to Aphrodite. A New Translation by F. L. Lucas, fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. With ten Engravings by...

    Printed in Great Britain at the Golden Cockerel Press, 1948.

    First edition, No. 308 of 750 copies. Cockalorum 177.

    £225

  17. [SIDNEY, Algernon.]

    The Arraignment, trial & condemnation of Algernon Sidney, esq; for high-treason. For conspiring the death of...

    London, Benjamin Tooke, 1684.

    First edition of this report of one of the most important and famous English political trials, that of the philosopher and politician Algernon Sidney (1623-1683). Sidney, who had been a commissioner at the trial of Charles I, and gone into exile in France at the restoration, but had returned to...

    £400

  18. THORNBURY, George Walter.

    Art and Nature at Home and Abroad …

    London: Hurst and Blackett, Publishers, Successors to Henry Colburn … 1856.

    First edition: an early collection of essays by Thornbury (1828-1876), a prolific (and famously cacographic) writer who is closely associated with Dickens for his work on Household Words and All the Year Round (‘one of Charles Dickens’s most valuable contributors’; Dickens, Letters,...

    £450

  19. GARDINER, John Smallman.

    The Art and the Pleasures of Hare-Hunting. In six Letters to a Person of Quality …

    London: Printed by R. Griffith … 1750.

    First edition, scarce, an eloquent and amusing account of hare-hunting, the first monograph on the subject in English, comprising letters on the superiority of hare-hunting to fox-hunting (less dangerous, less laborious), on the best types of dogs, of trailing and starting hares, etc. Gardiner’s letter...

    £1250

  20. ASTLEY, Philip.

    Astley’s System of equestrian Education, exhibiting the Beauties and Defects of the Horse, with serious and important...

    London, T. Burton for S. Creed, [c. 1801].

    Fifth edition of a work on horse-training by the ‘father of the modern circus’ (Chambers). Noted during military service in the Seven Years’ War not only for his daring in battle but also for his skills as a rider and breaker of horses, Philip Astley (1742-1814) established on his return...

    £350