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. SOCIETY FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF ARTS, MANUFACTURES, AND COMMERCE.

    Premiums by the Society, established at London, for the Encouragement...

    London: Printed by Order of the Society. 1759.

    First edition of the 1759 list of premiums. The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, now known as the Royal Society of Arts, was founded in 1754 by William Shipley, a drawing master living in Northampton, to awarded ‘premiums’ (cash prizes) to support improvements in...

    £450

  2. SOUTHEY, Robert.

    The Lay of the Laureate. Carmen Nuptiale …

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown … 1816.

    First trade edition of Southey’s laureate ode on the occasion of the marriage of Princess Charlotte to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, dedicated to her. There was also a private edition in octavo on large paper. Tinker 1962.

    £200

  3. 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

  4. SPON, [Jacob].

    The History of the City and State of Geneva, from its first Foundation to this present Time. Faithfully collected...

    London, Printed for Bernard White, 1687.

    First edition in English of a work first published in French in 1680. The attribution here to ‘Isaac’ Spon apparently comes from a misinterpretation of ‘Jac[ques]’ on the title-page of the French original.

    £1200

  5. SPORTSMAN’S EVENING BRUSH (The),

    consisting of the best and most approved Songs, of the Chace; ancient and modern (some entirely...

    London; Printed for J. Roach … and sold by all the Booksellers in Great-Britain and Ireland. [1791-2?]

    First edition of a scarce compilation of hunting songs and toasts to venery (in both its senses).

    £1250

  6. SPRAT, Thomas.

    Observations on Monsieur de Sorbier’s Voyage into England. Written to Dr. Wren ...

    London, Printed for John Martyn, and James Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society. 1665.

    First edition. When Samuel de Sorbière published his polemical Relation d’un Voyage en Angleterre (1664), touching on defects in the English nation and character, Thomas Sprat, afterwards Bishop of Rochester, composed an angry reply in the form of a letter to Christopher Wren (both were stalwarts...

    £850

  7. STATIUS, Publius Papinus.

    The Thebaid … translated into English Verse, with Notes and Observations and a Dissertation upon the...

    Oxford, Printed at the Clarendon Press. 1767.

    First edition: ‘the most successful English rendering of Statius’ Thebaid’ (Sowerby), translated into heroic couplets by William Lillington Lewis. ‘Ably captur[ing] the sublimity, eeriness, and violence of the original’, it was to be his only work (Oxford DNB).

    £1100

  8. STILLINGFLEET, Edward.

    Sermons preached on several Occasions to which a Discourse is annexed concerning the true Reason of the...

    London, Printed by Robert White, for Henry Mortlock … 1673.

    First edition thus, comprising twelve sermons preached 1666-72 and ‘A Discourse concerning the Suffering of Christ’ (pp. 239-384); six of the sermons and the ‘Discourse’ were first published in 1669.

    £200

  9. 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

  10. SULIVAN, Richard Joseph.

    Philosophical Rhapsodies. Fragments of Akbur of Betlis. Containing Reflections on the Laws, Manners, Customs...

    London: Printed for T. Becket … Bookseller to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and their Royal Highnesses the Princes. 1784-5.

    First edition of this eccentric travel-inspired treatise drawing upon the author’s experience in India and his travels in Europe. The prefatory ‘advertisement’ establishes the fiction that ‘the following fragments were written by a native of Assyria [Akbur], who … was removed to the continent...

    £950

  11. [SWEDENBORG, Emanuel].

    De nova Hierosolyma et ejus Doctrina Coelesti: ex Auditis e Coelo. Quibus praemittitur aliquid de Novo Coelo...

    Londoni: [Printed by John Lewis,] 1758.

    First edition of Swedenborg’s ‘New Jerusalem’, in which he describes a new church based on faith, charity and the unification of existing protestant churches.

    £975

  12. [SWIFT, Jonathan].

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse.

    London: Printed for John Morphew ... 1711.

    First edition, ordinary paper issue, the very rare first state, with G6-7 preserved (though slashed for cancellation); the cancellans was printed on A8, not here present.

    £1250

  13. SWIFT, Jonathan.

    The Works of J. S, D. D, D. S. P. D. in four Volumes … In this Edition are great Alterations and Additions;...

    Dublin: Printed by and for George Faulkner, Printer and Bookseller … 1735.

    First 12mo. edition of the first collected Works of Swift, preceded by octavo edition earlier in the year. Here the chronological arrangement in volumes I and II has been altered and one piece, ‘Prometheus’ (a later insertion), moved from volume IV to its correct place in volume II.

    £1250

  14. [SWIFT, Jonathan].

    On Poetry: a Rapsody.

    Printed at Dublin, and Re-printed at London: and sold by J. Huggonson ... and at the Booksellers and Pamphlet-shops ... 1733.

    First edition. On Poetry, one of Swift’s most important productions in verse, was early recognized as a masterpiece and would have achieved considerable favour for Swift at court had not Lord Hervey ‘undeceived Q[ueen] C[aroline] and taken some pains to teach her the use and power of irony’ (Dr....

    £750

  15. SWIFT, Jonathan, attributed author.

    The Life and genuine Character of Doctor Swift. Written by Himself.

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … and sold at the Pamphlet Shops … 1733.

    First edition. Authorship of this fine poem has long been debated. It was explicitly repudiated by Swift himself, though it has much in common with Verses on the Death of Doctor Swift and Faulkner printed it as genuine in 1746.

    £1000

  16. SWINBURNE, Algernon Charles.

    Ode on the Proclamation of the French Republic, September 4th, 1870 ...

    London: F. S. Ellis ... 1870.

    First edition. On 4 Septemeber 1879, two days after the final capitulation of the French army at Sedan and the surrender of Napoleon III to the King of Prussia, the republican deputies at Paris proclaimed the end of the imperial dynasty and the foundation of the provisional government that was to become...

    £100

  17. [TALFOURD, Thomas Noon].

    Ion; a Tragedy, in five Acts. To which are added a few Sonnets. Second Edition.

    London: Printed by A. J. Valpy ... for private Circulation. Not published. [1835]

    Second private edition of Talfourd’s blank verse tragedy, adding a small group of eight sonnets not in the first edition (also privately printed, 1835), and with a new preface: ‘Having exhausted the small impression which was originally printed of Ion, and finding that there are yet friends in whose...

    £250

  18. TANNER, Anodyne, M.D., pseud.

    The Life of the late celebrated Mrs. Elizabeth Wisebourn, vulgarly call’d Mother Wybourn; containing...

    London: Printed for A. Moore … [1721?]

    First edition of a scurrilous account of Elizabeth Wisebourn[e], a famous bawd, and the goings-on in the gilded apartments of her elegant London brothel in Drury-Lane. Born in 1653 and educated in Rome under the tuition of a Lady Abbess to whom ‘she ow’d all that she knew of her Business’, Elizabeth...

    £1850

  19. TEMPLE, Sir William.

    An Introduction to the History of England …

    London, Printed for Richard Simpson … and Ralph Simpson … 1695

    First edition. Newly arrived in England from Trinity College, Dublin, Swift in 1689 entered upon a ten-year period as secretary to Sir William Temple at Moor Park near Farnham in Surrey. ‘Partly thanks to Swift’s support several of Temple’s important works were published in the 1690s, notably the...

    £450

  20. TENNYSON, Alfred, Lord.

    Maud, and other Poems …

    London: Edward Moxon … 1855.

    First edition, containing the first appearance in book form of ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. The poem was originally printed in The Examiner in December 1854.

    £150