English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees

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. LACTANTIUS.

    Opera.

    [Venice], Vindelinus de Spira, 1472.

    A fine product of the first Venetian press, established in 1469 by Johannes de Spira and continued by his brother Vindelinus from 1470 until 1473. This was the fifth impression of the works of Lactantius, the hugely successful North-African early Christian writer.

    £30000

  2. CATULLUS, TIBULLUS, PROPERTIUS.

    Carmina.

    [Milan, Philippus de Lavagnia] for Johannes de Colonia and Johannes Manthen [in Venice], 1475.

    A handsome copy of the second edition of Catullus, Tibullus and Propertius, a close reprint of the edition by Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. Statius’s Silvae also formed part of the edition, but it is not present here; the parts are sometimes found separately, as ISTC notes, and almost half...

    £40000

  3. URCEO, Antonio [or Codro].

    Hoc Codri volumine haec continentur. Orationes, seu sermones ut ipse appellabat. Epistolae. Silvae....

    Bologna, Giovanni Antonio Benedetti, 7 March 1502.

    First edition of a quintessential piece of Italian humanism, annotated by a sixteenth-century reader particularly interested in the philology of the texts.

    £3000

  4. JUSTINUS, Marcus Junianius, and Lucius FLORUS. 

    [Epitome historiarum:] Justini historici clarissimi in Trogi Pompei historias...

    [Venice, Bartolomeo Zani, 3 February 1503.] 

    A thoroughly annotated copy of a greatly influential compendium of Trogus’s monumental forty-four-book Historia of the world from Babylon to the Augustan era. 

    £3800

  5. LUCIAN, of Samosata.

    Deorum dialogi... una cum interpretatione e regione latina nusquam antea impressi...

    Strassbourg, Johannes Schott, 1515.

    First edition edited and translated by the German humanist (and musician) Ottmar Nachtgall.

    £2100

  6. PLUTARCH [and Jodocus BADIUS Ascensius (editor)].

    Vitae … novissime … longe diligentius repositae, majoreque...

    Venice, Melchiorre Sessa [the elder] & Pietro Ravani, 26 November 1516.

    First substantially illustrated edition of Plutarch’s Lives, with signs of early reading. First published in this popular translation in Paris in 1514 by French scholar-printer Jodocus Badius Ascensius (1462–1535) in collaboration with Jean Petit, the text is here accompanied by seventy-eight...

    £4250

  7. FLORUS.

    Lucii Flori rerum ab urbe condita liber primus [– quartus].

    [Venice, in aedibus Aldi et Andreae Soceri, March 1521.]

    Florus’s epitome of Roman history, extracted from the Aldine edition of March 1521 which comprised an epitome of Livy, Florus, and Niccolò Perotti’s translation of Polybius.

    £750

  8. [ROZIER.]

    Le rozier historial de France contenant deux roziers. Le p[re]mier rozier contient plusieurs belles rozes e boutons de...

    Paris, [Gilles Couteau for François Regnault], 26 February 1522 [i.e. 1523].

    First edition, the very handsome Fairfax-Murray copy, of the Rozier historial de France. The first part, the Rozier des guerres, is a speculum principis for rulers in peace and war, and was originally published on its own in Lyons circa 1489 (only two copies known). The second...

    £25000

  9. PLUTARCH.

    ...

    [(Colophon:)] Venice, Nicolao di Aristotile detto Zoppino, March]1525.

    An attractive illustrated edition of twenty-seven of Plutarch’s lives, extensively annotated by a Papal tax-collector, in a striking contemporary binding.

    £2750

  10. DIO CASSIUS.

    Dione historico delle guerre et fatti de Romani. Tradotto di Greco in lingua vulgare per M. Nicolo Leoniceno. Con...

    Venice, Niccolò Zoppino, March 1533.

    First edition of Dio’s Roman History in any language, translated into Italian from the original Greek by Niccolò Leoniceno and preceding the Greek editio princeps, printed by Robert Estienne in 1548, by some fifteen years.

    £2750

  11. PSEUDO-HEGESIPPUS.

    De rebus a Iudaeoru[m] principibus in obsidione fortiter gestis, deq[ue] excidio Hierosolymorum, aliarumq[ue]...

    Cologne, Jaspar Gennepaeus, 1544.

    An early edition of this popular Latin account of the Jewish War of 66-73 AD, with a dedication by Philipp Melanchthon. The text borrows heavily from the Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, and is attributed in extant manuscripts either to Hegesippus –...

    £500

  12. [COLONNA, Francesco.]

    Poliphili hypnerotomachia, ubi humana omnia non nisi somnium esse ostendit, atque obiter plurima scitu sane...

    Venice, [heirs of Aldus], 1545.

    Second edition, scarcer than the first (also an Aldine, published in 1499), of the most beautiful illustrated book printed in Italy in the fifteenth century. Known for its fine woodcut illustrations, mysterious meanings, and the cryptic inclusion of Colonna’s name, the Hypnerotomachia has...

    £24000

  13. GIOVIO, Paolo.

    Elogia veris clarorum virorum imaginibus apposita. Quae in musaeo Ioviano Comi spectantur. Addita in calce operis...

    Venice, Michele Tramezzino, 1546.

    First edition of Giovio’s biographies of illustrious men, with several marginal corrections, remarks, and comments by a contemporary reader, whose knowledge of biographies of the past encompassed several authors, including Erasmus.

    £3000

  14. GIRALDI, Lilio Gregorio. 

    De Deis gentium varia et multiplex historia, in qua simul de eorum imaginibus et cognominibus agitur,...

    Basel, Oporinus, 1548. 

    First edition of the most important mythography to be published after Boccaccio’s Genealogiae deorum gentilium and before Conti’s Mythologiae, with extensive marginalia in the first part. 

    £2500

  15. GUAZZO, Marco.

    Historie di M. Marco Guazzo di tutti i fatti degni di memoria nel mondo successi dal 1524 sino a l’anno 1549....

    Venice, Giolito, 1549.

    First edition thus, this copy owned by the future Pope Clement XII, of a remarkable history of recent and contemporary events, first published in 1540 and here updated by almost ten years, resuming the account of world event and Italian politics and including references to American history from 1522.

    £3600

  16. ALBERTI, Leon Battista.

    El Momo. La moral e muy graciosa historia del Momo; compuesta en Latin por el docto varon Leon Bapista...

    Alcalá de Henares, Joan Mey Flandro, 1553.

    First edition in Spanish of Alberti’s Momus [or De principe], translated by Augustín de Almaçan and with an introductory 8-page Exposición by the Toledo ascetic writer and scholar Alejo Venegas (1495?–1554?).

    £3800

  17. POSTEL, Guillaume.

    De originibus, seu, de varia et potissimum orbi Latino ad hanc diem incognita, aut inconsyderata historia, quorum...

    Basle, Johannes Oporinus, [1553].

    First edition of Postel’s investigations into the original language as a means to regain the primordial unity of mankind.

    £3500

  18. RAMUS, Petrus.

    P. Rami ... Oratio de legatione.

    Paris, Andreas Wechel, 1557.

    First (?) edition: a fascinating pamphlet marking a critical epoch in the history of the University of Paris and the first occasion on which Ramus came into prominence as champion of his University and of higher education in general.

    £800

  19. RAMUS, Petrus.

    Harangue ... touchant ce qu'ont faict les deputez de l’Université de Paris envers le Roy. Mise de Latin en Francois.

    Paris, Andreas Wechel, 1557.

    First French-language edition of the above, issued simultaneously with the Latin text and presumably translated by Ramus himself. Apart from La Dialectique, this is one of Ramus’ very few works in the vernacular. Very rare.

    £950

  20. STRAPAROLA, Giovanfrancesco.

    Le piacevoli notti di messer Giovanfrancesco Straparola da Caravaggio.

    Venice, Domenico Giglio, 1558.

    An early edition of both volumes of Straparola’s Facetious nights, first published in 1550–53.

    £2750