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. [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

  2. [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

  3. WHEELER, William (Basil Henry LIDDELL HART, editor).

    The letters of Private Wheeler 1809–1828.

    London, Michael Joseph, [1951].

    First edition. William Wheeler was a private soldier who had transferred into the army (51st Foot) from the Surrey Militia in April 1809. His letters ‘start with the Walcheren expedition, cover the main part of the Peninsular War, and then give his impressions of the Waterloo campaign. I know of no...

    £40

  4. [WHITEHEAD, William.]

    Variety. A tale, for married people.

    London, for J. Dodsley, 1776.

    First edition of this verse fable on married life by William Whitehead (1715-85), the son of a Cambridge baker who rose to become fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, a successful playwright, and poet laureate in succession to Colley Cibber. ‘Variety’ is the tale of a well-read rural maid who marries...

    £100

  5. 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

  6. [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

  7. WILKES, John.

    The History of England from the Revolution to the accession of the Brunswick line. Vol. I.

    London, J. Almon, 1768.

    First edition of this Wilkes fragment, the introduction only of an unfinished work; the leaf of advertisements present here promises ‘the reigns of King William and Queen Anne are in the press and will speedily be published’.

    £250

  8. [WILKES, John.] [CRADOCK, Joseph.]

    The Life of John Wilkes, Esq; in the manner of Plutarch. Being a specimen of a larger work....

    London, J. Wilkie, 1773.

    Second edition of a satirical ‘biography’ of Wilkes, published in the same year as the first; Cradock, whose windows had been broken by a Wilkite mob earlier in the year, ironically praises Wilkes’s many remarkable achievements.

    £250

  9. [WILLIAMS, David.]

    Lessons to a young prince, by an old statesman, on the present disposition in Europe to a general revolution....

    Dublin, William Jones, 1791.

    First Dublin edition of this popular introduction to practical political philosophy by the Welsh polemicist, educationalist, and philosopher David Williams (1738–1816).

    £275

  10. [WILLIAMS, John.]

    The History of the Gunpowder-Treason, collected from approved Authors, as well popish as protestant.

    London, Richard Chiswel, 1678.

    First edition of an anti-popish history of the Gunpowder Plot. A well informed account drawing on both Anglican and Catholic sources, The History of the Gunpowder-Treason was published anonymously by John Williams (1633/6–1709), later Bishop of Chichester, amid renewed interest in the subject during...

    £750

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. WILSON, Thomas.

    The Pitman’s pay, and other poems.

    Gateshead, William Douglas, 1843.

    First collected edition of the works of the Tyneside miner turned poet Thomas Wilson (1773-1858). The Pitman’s pay – Wilson’s chief literary work – ‘is a metrical description, much of it in mining patois, of the incidents and conversations of the colliers on their fortnightly Friday...

    £75

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. WOLLSTONECRAFT, Mary, and William BLAKE (illustrator).

    Mary Wollstonecraft’s original Stories, with five Illustrations … with...

    London, Horace Hart for Henry Frowde, 1906.

    Later edition of Wollstonecraft’s Original Stories, illustrated by William Blake.

    £50

  18. WOOLLEY, C. Leonard and Thomas Edward LAWRENCE.

    The Wilderness of Zin ... With a Chapter on the Greek Inscriptions by M.N. Tod....

    London: The Alden Press for Jonathan Cape, 1936.

    Second English edition. The Wilderness of Zin originally appeared as the Palestine Exploration Fund Annual for 1914-1915, and was the first work by Lawrence to appear in book form. However, it was included in the P.E.F. series on somewhat disingenuous grounds: ‘During January and February 1914,...

    £150

  19. WORDSWORTH, William.

    Lyrical Ballads, with a Pastoral and other Poems, in two Volumes … Third Edition.

    London: Printed for T. N. Longman and O. Rees … by Riggs and Cottle …. 1802.

    Second complete edition, with the Preface much enlarged and a new ‘Appendix’ on poetic diction (pp. 237-247 in volume II), one of the key theoretical texts of English Romanticism. For this edition, two poems were omitted, Coleridge’s ‘The Dungeon’ and Wordsworth’s ‘A Character’, several...

    £3000

  20. WORDSWORTH, William.

    A Letter to a Friend of Robert Burns: occasioned by an intended Republication of the Account of the Life of...

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

    First edition. James Currie’s Works of Burns with a life and letters was first published in 1800 and several times reprinted and enlarged.

    £1500