English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees, Ted Hofmann or Alexander Laar

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. [TWISS, Horace].

    Posthumous Parodies and other Pieces, composed by several of our most celebrated Poets, but not published in any...

    London: Printed for John Miller. 1814.

    First edition. Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope and Johnson are among the poets parodied.

    £150

  2. TYRTAEUS and CALLINUS.

    Les chants...traduits en vers par Firmin Didot.

    Paris, Firmin Didot, pere et fils, 1827.

    One of only 100 copies - all hors de commerce - of this deluxe folio Didot edition of some of the oldest martial elegy verses of the Western tradition: the surviving works of the Spartan poet Tyrtaeus and the Ephesian poet Callinus (7th-6th century BC). The text is preceded by an engraved Lettre to Firmin...

    £6000

  3. [WAGNER, Richard.]

    Wagner Festival. Royal Albert Hall, May 1877. Selections from the German texts of Der Ring des Nibelungen, Rienzi,...

    London: [The Elzevir Press for] Hodge and Essex, [but 1877].

    First edition, very rare, an attractive volume collecting the separately-issued programmes for the initial run of six concerts during the first Wagner Festival at the Royal Albert Hall in May 1877, with a general title-page. The texts are printed in German and English in parallel – the first...

    £2500

  4. WALFORD, L[ucy] B[ethia].

    The Mischief of Monica … in three Volumes …

    London, Longmans, Green, & Co. … 1891.

    First edition. Born in Edinburgh in 1845, Walford began writing secretly soon after her marriage, contributing stories to Blackwood’s and other periodicals. Her family voiced serious disapproval upon the publication of her first novel, Mr Smith: A Part of his Life, in 1874; it was, however,...

    £425

  5. WALKER, John.

    Hints for Improvement in the Art of Reading ...

    London: Printed for the Author, and sold by T. Cadell ... G. Robinson ... and T. Becket ... 1783

    First edition. The future lexicographer John Walker (1732-1807) left grammar school and then absconded from an apprenticeship to join a succession of provincial theatre companies. Garrick hired him in 1754 and for the next four years he performed a number of mainly minor parts at Drury Lane. In 1758...

    £650

  6. WALLER, Edmund.

    Poems, &c. written upon several Occasions, and to several Persons ... Never till now corrected and published with...

    London, Printed for Henry Herringman ... 1664.

    The first authorised edition, which repudiates in its preface all of the 1645 printings (‘When the Author of these verses ... returned from abroad some years since, He was troubled to find his name in print, but somewhat satisfied to see his lines so ill rendred that he might justly disown them, and...

    £500

  7. WALLER, Edmund.

    Poems, &c. written by Mr. Ed. Waller … and printed by a Copy of his own Hand-Writing. All the lyrick Poems in...

    London, Printed by I. N. for Hu. Mosley … 1645.


    Second, first licensed, edition of Waller’s first and most important collection, published while he was in exile, and shortly preceded by an unlicensed volume, Workes (London, Thomas Walkley, 1645) (Wing W 495) – ‘an adulterate Copy, surreptitiously and illegally imprinted, to the derogation...

    £850

  8. WALTON, Izaac.

    The Lives of Dr John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Mr Richard Hooker, Mr George Herbert … to which are added some Letters...

    London, printed by Tho. Newcomb for Richard Marriott … 1670.

    First collected edition of Walton’s celebrated lives of poets and divines. ‘If its rarity was as great as its merit it would be one of the most coveted books of the period’ (Pforzheimer). The biography of Wotton was published as part of Reliquiae Wottonianae (1651); Walton’s life of Donne first...

    £850

  9. WALTON, Izaak.

    The Life of Dr. Sanderson, late Bishop of Lincoln ... to which is added, some short Tracts or Cases of Conscience,...

    London, Printed for Richard Marriott. 1678.

    First edition, the last of Walton’s five celebrated Lives.

    £400

  10. [WARTON, Thomas, the younger].

    The Pleasures of Melancholy. A Poem …

    London: Printed for R. Dodsley … and sold by M. Cooper … 1747.

    First edition of Warton’s second publication, preceded by Five Pastoral Eclogues (1745), and written at that time, though Warton also contributed to his brother Joseph’s Odes on various Subjects (1746). The Pleasures of Melancholy was Warton’s first major poem, a meditative...

    £400

  11. [WATTS, John].

    The Musical Miscellany; being a Collection of choice Songs [and lyrick Poems], set to the Violin and Flute [or With...

    London: Printed by and for John Watts … 1729 [–1731]

    First edition of an influential collection of over 450 songs and ballads, published in the years of the brief flowering of English ballad opera subsequent to The Beggar’s Opera (1728). For each song, Watts prints the melody (and from volume III on a bass continuo), the lyrics, and a flute or...

    £3850

  12. [WESTMINSTER ELECTION.]

    A True and impartial Collection of Pieces, in Prose and Verse, which have been written and published on...

    London: Printed for W. Owen … 1749.

    First edition. A compilation of open letters to the electorate of Westminster, written during the violent 1749 election campaign. Despite the brutality which characterised the election the editor hopes the letters might be impartially considered for their merits: ‘As many smart pieces were written...

    £750

  13. WHY AND THE WHEREFORE (The):

    or, the Lady’s two Questions resolved. Question the first; why Men have not much to boast of their...

    London: Printed for J. Lamb … 1765.

    First and only edition, extremely rare, of an unusual work of erotic fiction. Despite the implication that this is a translation from Italian, it is in fact an English original.

    £7500

  14. [WILKES, John.]

    The North Briton [– the third Volume of the North Briton].

    Dublin, [s.n.,] 1764 [– 1765].

    Fourth Dublin edition, printed the year after the first, of Wilkes’s satirical periodical. Established in June 1762 to criticise the government of George III’s new Prime Minister, Lord Bute (for whom the work is named), the North Briton had soon reached a circulation of almost two thousand....

    £400

  15. WILKINSON, Tate.

    Memoirs of his own Life … In four Volumes …

    York: Printed for the Author, by Wilson, Spence, and Mawman; and sold by G. G. J. and J. Robinson … and T. and J. Egerton … Anno 1790.

    First edition of the autobiography of the colourful actor and impresario Tate Wilkinson (1739-1803), patentee of the Theatres Royal in York, Hull and Edinburgh.

    £575

  16. WILLICH, Anthony Florian Madinger.

    Lectures on Diet and Regimen: being a systematic Inquiry into the most rational Means of preserving...

    London: Printed for T. N. Longman and O. Rees … 1799.

    Second edition, much revised and expanded, printed in the same year as the first: ‘Many important and useful articles have been added, especially in the fifth Chapter, “Of Food and Drink.”’ Willich’s very popular manual was based on a series of lecture given by the eminent physician at Bath...

    £375

  17. WILMOT, John and Wentworth DILLON.

    The Miscellaneous Works of the Right Honourable the late Earls of Rochester and Roscommon. With...

    London Printed: and sold by B. Bragge … 1707.

    First edition, oddly scarce, of the combined works of Rochester and Roscommon, prefaced by Evremont’s lively biographical account of Rochester. This collection formed the basis of most later-eighteenth-century editions (though without the second part, the miscellany of poems by others). It is the...

    £1250

  18. WISE, Francis.

    A Letter to Dr Mead concerning some Antiquities in Berkshire, particularly shewing that the White Horse, which gives...

    Oxford, Printed for Thomas Wood … 1738

    First editions. A Letter to Dr Mead was the first serious archaeological study of the Uffington White Horse. Francis Wise, Keeper of the Archives at Oxford University and later a friend of Samuel Johnson, contends that the horse, which he eulogises as a work of art, had Saxon origins, because...

    £350

  19. WITHER, George.

    The Psalmes of David translated into Lyrick-Verse, according to the Scope, of the Original, and illustrated, with...

    [Amsterdam:] Imprinted in the Netherlands by Cornelis Gerrits van Breughel, 1632.

    First edition, dedicated to Princess Elizabeth, the ‘Winter Queen’, daughter of James I. The translation, a companion to Wither’s Hymnes and Songs of the Church, was written at the request of James, and finished shortly before his death in 1625: ‘I was commanded to perfect a Translation...

    £3200

  20. WITHER, George.

    Speculum Speculativum: or, a Considering-Glasse; being an Inspection into the present and late sad Condition of...

    London, Written June XIII. MDCLX. and there Imprinted the same year [1660].

    The third of three editions in the same year, from an entirely new setting of type, with ‘Glasse’ rather than ‘Glass’ on the title-page, the errata formerly printed on L8 corrected, and the errors corrected in the caption title on p. 1

    £525