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. THUCYDIDES.

    ΘΟΥΚΥΔΙΔΗΣ. THVCYDIDES.

    (Colophon:) Venice, Aldus, May 1502.

    A handsome copy of the first edition of the Greek text of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War, printed by the great Aldus Manutius, with an interesting provenance.

    £25000

  2. 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

  3. [ROLEVINCK, Werner.]

    Fasciculus temporum omnes antiquorum cronicas succincte complectens [colophon:] cum pluribus additionibus...

    Paris, Jean Petit, [1518].

    Second Petit edition of the famous chronicle, with a new continuation up to the year of publication, in an attractive contemporary German or Austrian binding. Beginning with Creation and first written in the late fifteenth century, the annals of the Carthusian monk Werner Rolevinck (1425–1502)...

    £1600

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. RAMUS, Petrus.

    Rhetoricae Destinctiones in Quintilianum. Parisiis, ex typographia Matthaei Davidis, 1550.

    Paris, 1550.

    1. Third edition. "This is Ramus' commentary on the twelve books of Quintilian's Institutiones oratoriae later combined with Brutus' Problems to form the Lectures on Rethoric" (Ong p. 147).

    £800

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. SIGONIO, Carlo.

    De dialogo liber. Ad Ioannem Moronum cardinalem.

    Venice, Giordano Ziletti, 1562.

    SIGONIO, Carlo. De vita, et rebus gestis P. Scipionis Aemiliani liber. Adiectis in fine, unde historia sumpta sit, locis. Index rerum memorabilium. Bologna, Giovanni Rossi, 1569.

    £1600

  13. RAMUS, Petrus. (Commentator) - VIRGILIUS MARO, Publius.

    Georgica, P. Rami professoris regii praelectionibus illustrata, ad Carolum...

    Paris, 1564.

    Second editions of Ramus' extensive commentaries on Virgil's two poems on country life, which he wrote in order to react against the dry doctrines of several French schools who based their teaching of nature on Aristotle's physics. He wanted to keep in contact with the concrete realities of nature and...

    £2000

  14. PARADIN, Guillaume.

    Gulielmi Paradini Anchemani Epigrammata ...

    Lyons, Ant. Gryphius, 1581.

    First and only edition of this French historian’s poetry including verses about or addressed to Ronsard, Pontus de Tyard, Claude Rouillet, and the Lyons printers Sébastien and Antoine Gryphe, and Jean de Tournes.

    £950

  15. [FRANCE and ITALY.]

    A collection of manuscript and printed material pertaining to French territorial ambitions in Italy.

    [1537 – c. 1630].

    A collection of memoranda concerning French ambitions in the Italian peninsula during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

    £750

  16. CHAUCER, Geoffrey.

    The Workes of our ancient and learned English Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, newly printed. To that which was done...

    London, Printed by Adam Islip. An. Dom. 1602.

    Second Thomas Speght edition (sixth collected edition), revised much for the better by Francis Thynne; this is the variant with Adam Islip rather than George Bishop in the imprint. The portrait of Chaucer, which first appeared in the Speght edition of 1598, is the first engraved representation of the poet.

    £6000

  17. LE MIRE, Aubert (editor).

    Rerum toto orbe gestarum chronica a Christo nato ad nostra usque tempora. Auctoribus Eusebio Caesariensi...

    Antwerp, apud Hieronymum Verdussium, 1608.

    First edition of this collection of chronicles, covering sixteen hundred years of world history from the birth of Christ to its publication, composed by the ecclesiastical historian Aubert le Mire of Brussels, this copy from the library of Jacques Auguste de Thou.

    £3750

  18. FLETCHER, Giles, the younger.

    Christs Victorie, and Triumph in Heaven, and Earth, over, and after Death …

    Cambridge, Printed by C. Legge. 1610.

    First edition of an important poem, a ‘worthy link’ in the chain which connects Fletcher’s great master, Spenser, with his great successor, Milton (Hugh de Selincourt, CHEL). This is the first state, with a fleur-de-lis device on the title-pages – three copies are known with the title-pages reset...

    £3500

  19. 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

  20. MIRANDA, Giovanni.

    Historia del valoroso cavallier Polisman, nella quale, oltre alla sua origine, vita, & imprese, si contengono...

    Venice, Lucio Spineda, 1612.

    Second edition (in fact a reissue of the first edition published in 1573) of a rare pseudo-Hispanic Italian chivalric romance, with a curious printing history.

    £1750