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. [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

  3. [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

  4. DONNE, John.

    Poems … with Elegies on the Authors Death …

    London. Printed by M. F. for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1633.

    First edition of what may arguably be called the greatest poetical collection of the seventeenth century. This is the issue (precedence not established, but presumably the first) without the inserted leaves 2A2 (‘The Printer to the Understanders’ and ‘Hexastichon Bibliopolae’) and with Nn1 in...

    £15000

  5. GIBBON, Edward.

    The history of the decline and fall of the Roman empire.

    London, printed for W. Strahan & T. Cadell, 1776–88.

    First editions of all six volumes of Gibbon’s ‘masterpiece of historical penetration and literary style’ (PMM). The first volume here is of the second variant (of two), with the errata corrected as far as p. 183 and X4 and a4 so signed.

    £14000

  6. PLAUTUS.

    Plautinae viginti comediae emendatissimae cum accuratissima ac luculentissima interpraetatione doctissimorum virorum Petri...

    Venice, Simone Bevilacqua for Marco Firmiano, 17 September 1499.

    A most interesting copy of this incunable edition of the plays of Plautus, formerly in the library of the noted English playwright and diplomat Sir George Etherege (1636–1692) – being his earliest known acquisition – and later passing into the ownership of the surgeon Charles Bernard (1652–1710)....

    £12500

  7. MARKHAM, Gervase.

    Cavalarice, or the English Horseman: Contayning all the Art of Horse-manship, asmuch as is necessary for any...

    London, Edward Allde for Edward White, [1616–] 1617.

    A beautiful copy of the second edition, ‘corrected and augmented’, of Markham’s Cavalarice, exceptionally well-preserved in a contemporary binding, from the library of the antiquary Sir John Marsham.

    £12000

  8. [PUSHKIN, Aleksandr.]

    Исторія пугачевскаго бунта [Istoriia pugachevskago bunta; History of the Pugachev...

    St. Petersburg, Chancellery press, 1834.

    Rare first edition, in a contemporary Russian binding. Pushkin’s undertook his foray into the genre of history-writing with the utmost regard for his sources: from archival documents and eyewitness reports to direct inspection of the places where the conflict played out, he acquired an exceptionally...

    £9500

  9. OVIDIUS Naso, Publius, and Pedro Sánchez de VIANA (transl. and ed.).

    Las transformaciones. [issued with:]...

    Valladolid, Diego Fernández de Córdoba, 1589.

    First edition, a copy of notable provenance, of perhaps the most successful early Spanish translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, by Pedro Sánchez de Viana (1545–1616), published along with his substantial commentary. In the age of Cervantes (another master of literary transformations), Ovid...

    £8000

  10. 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

  11. MACDIARMID, Hugh [i.e. Christopher Grieve], and Valda TREVLYN GRIEVE.

    A collection of 24 items, many signed or inscribed,...

    1955-1978.

    The poet and BBC broadcaster D. G. Bridson had been an avid reader of MacDiarmid since the ’30s, and organized a ‘comprehensive selection’ of his work for broadcast on 5 Feb 1951, followed by productions of In Memoriam James Joyce (31 May 1956) and Impavidi progrediamur (19 December...

    £5400

  12. WORDSWORTH, William [and Samuel Taylor COLERIDGE].

    Lyrical Ballads, with other Poems. In two volumes … second Edition. London:...

    by Biggs and Co. Bristol. 1800.

    Second, definitive, and first complete edition of Lyrical Ballads. To volume I (first published at Bristol in 1798, reissued in London in the same year) Wordsworth added his famous preface, the manifesto of the Romantic movement – calling for, among other things, a poetry of ‘common life’, adopting...

    £5000

  13. HALLAM, Arthur Henry.

    Remains, in Verse and Prose …

    [London,] Printed by W. Nicol … 1834.

    First edition, a presentation copy from the editor, the historian Henry Hallam, to his late son’s friend and fellow Cambridge ‘Apostle’ James Spedding. The prefatory memoir by Hallam senior includes a long letter from Spedding (‘one of his most valued friends’) written in tribute to...

    £5000

  14. MILNE, A. A.

    Autograph letter, signed, to ‘my dear Shepard’, his friend and collaborator the illustrator Ernest. H. Shepard,

    dated at the head 31.12.29

    A fine and touching letter between two of the most famous collaborators in all of children’s literature, in which Milne’s discusses his difficulties with a projected edition of Mother Goose.

    £5000

  15. [JOHNSON, Samuel].

    The Prince of Abissinia. A Tale ...

    London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley ... and W. Johnston ... 1759.

    First edition of Johnson’s only novel, written in the evenings of a single week to pay for his mother’s funeral. Its rapid execution is said to have been due to the fact that he had been pondering its chief topics all his life. It soon became his most popular work. Although now inevitably called...

    £4500

  16. DONNE, John.

    Poems … with Elegies on the authors Death …

    London, Printed by M. F. for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1635.

    Second edition, adding seventeen new poems by Donne (and eleven false attributions), and three more elegies on his death. The poems have been rearranged into sections, headed ‘Songs and Sonets’, ‘Elegies’, ‘Epithalamions’. ‘Satyres’, and ‘Letters’, ‘Divine Poems’, etc. Two poems...

    £4500

  17. SHERBURNE, Sir Edward.

    Salmacis, Lyrian & Sylvia, Forsaken Lydia, the Rape of Helen, a Comment thereon, with severall other...

    London, Printed by W. Hunt, for Thomas Dring ... 1651.

    First edition of a charming book of Caroline poetry, original and translated, in a most sympathetic and well-preserved collector’s binding. This is the first issue; it was reissued in the same year under the title Poems and Translations, amorous, lusory, morall, divine, reflecting the...

    £4250

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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