English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees

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. SCARRON, Paul. 

    Le Marquis ridicule, ou la comtesse faite à la haste.  Comedie … Suivant la copie imprimée a Paris. 

    [Leiden, Elzevier], 1656.  [bound with:]

    First Elzevier editions, very rare, of these two plays by Scarron, pirated after the text of the first editions printed in Paris.  A finely bound volume with excellent Elzevierian provenance. 


  2. SCHÜBLER, Johann Jakob.

    Amor, vehementer quidem flagrans; artificiose tamen celatus, de Pantalonis custodiaque triumphans, intentato...

    Augsburg, Johann Michael Probst, [c. 1770?].

    Rare series of twelve engravings inspired by the Italian commedia dell’arte, one of the most beautiful books of the German Rococo, engraved by Johann Balthasar Probst after original illustrations by the architectural painter, sculptor, and mathematician Johann Jakob Schübler.


  3. SCOTT, Sir Walter.

    The Vision of Don Roderick; a Poem ... Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Co. for John Ballantyne ...

    Edinburgh, and Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, London, 1811

    First trade edition, third impression (correcting the pagination), preceded by a private edition described as ‘Author’s Copy’ on the title-page.


  4. SCOTT, Sir Walter.

    The Lady of the Lake … with all his Introductions and Notes, various Readings, and the Editor’s Notes.

    Edinburgh, Robert Cadell, 1851.

    An attractive Scottish 'Mauchline ware' tartan binding. Mauchline ware bindings – the name comes from Smith’s boxware factory at Mauchline in Ayrshire – were made from thin wooden boards (often sycamore) decorated with tartan or pictorial designs, heavily varnished, and attached to the text...


  5. SCRIBE, Augustin-Eugène.

    Autograph letter, signed, to an unnamed recipient.

    Paris, 21 January, [1840, 1845, or 1851].

    The dramatist Augustin-Eugène Scribe (1791–1861) thanks the unnamed recipient for his invitation but politely regrets that he is unable to attend. He explains that he had fully intended to come and had already arranged with ‘Monsieur Pichot’ to go together with him. However, Scribe’s wife had...


  6. SENECA, Lucius Anneus. 

    Tragoediae pristinae integritati restitutae, per exactissimi judicii viros post Avantium & Philologum … 

    Paris, Badius Ascensius, 1514. 

    First edition edited by Erasmus and Badius Ascensius, a landmark in the history of Seneca’s textual tradition.  This key work, the product of a collaboration between two wholly committed humanists, cannot have been accomplished without some friction: Erasmus had allowed Badius to make use of...


  7. [SHAFTESBURY, Anthony Ashley [Cooper], third Earl of].

    Several Letters written by a noble Lord to a young Man at the University …

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1716.

    First edition, posthumously published. The ten letters here were written by Shaftesbury to a protégé, Michael Ainsworth, whilst at Oxford (1707-1710). Shaftesbury’s own teacher, John Locke, features in a number of them, receiving from his erstwhile pupil both praise (‘No one has done more towards...


  8. [SHAKESPEARE]; ‘HAMILTON, N.E.S.A.’ [i.e. COLLIER, John Payne].

    An inquiry into the genuineness of the manuscript corrections...

    London, Richard Bentley, 1860.

    First edition, the result of research by the Keeper and Assistant Keeper of manuscripts at the British Library, Frederic Madden and Nicholas Hamilton.


  9. SHAKESPEARE, [William]. 

    The Works of Shakespeare, the text of the First Folio with Quarto variants and a selection of modern...

    [Cambridge, University Press for] The Nonesuch Press, and New York, Random House, 1929 [– 1933]. 

    First Nonesuch edition, number 220 of 1600 copies, not only handsomely printed and bound but also an important scholarly edition, collating the texts of the First Folio against variants in preceding quarto editions. 


  10. SHAKESPEARE, William, and Boris Leonidovich PASTERNAK, translator.

    Otello, venetsianskii mavr. Perevod s angliiskogo...

    Moscow, Ogiz, 1945.

    First edition of Pasternak’s translation. ‘Pasternak was attached to Shakespeare for all his creative life. In his best early verse collection My Sister Life (pub. 1922), the poem “English Lessons” featured Desdemona and Ophelia “letting their passions slip from their shoulders...


  11. SHAKESPEARE, William; Mihály VÖRÖSMARTY, translator.

    Lear Király …

    Pest, Landerer & Heckenastn, 1856.

    First edition of the first translation of King Lear into Hungarian.


  12. SHARPHAM, Edward.

    Cupids whirligig. As it hath bene Sundrie times acted, by the Children of his Majesties Revels.

    London, Imprinted by Tho: Creede, and Ber: Alsop, and are to be solde by Arthur Johnson … 1616.

    Third edition of an early Jacobean comedy based upon a tale in Boccaccio’s Decameron, with a contemporary London setting.


  13. SHAW, Eyre Massey, Capt.

    Report … to the Right Hon. the Secretary of State of the Home Department concerning the Fire which occurred...

    London: Printed for Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode … 1888.

    First edition of Shaw’s account of the disastrous fire at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, in 1887.


  14. [SHEFFIELD, John, Earl of Mulgrave, afterwards Duke of Buckingham.]

    An Essay on Poetry.

    London, Printed for Joseph Hindmarsh … 1682.

    First edition, a verse satire in imitation of Horace’s Ars Poetica. There are indirect attacks on Rochester (‘Bawdry barefac’d, that poor pretence to Wit’), and Cowley, who has poetic fury but ‘ill expression’, while Sheffield reserves praise for Dryden, who took the blame for...


  15. SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe.

    Queen Mab.

    London: Printed and published by W. Clark ... 1821

    Second (first published edition) of Shelley’s most provocative poem. The radical bookseller and pirate William Clark came across a copy of the privately-printed first edition in 1821 and brought out this unauthorized text, ‘studious in adhering to the original copy’, printing the notes in French,...


  16. SHENSTONE, William.

    The Works, in Verse and Prose… in three Volumes … Fifth Edition …

    London: Printed for J. Dodsley … 1777.

    Fifth edition of the Works (1764), the first edition of which was planned by Shenstone but published after his death, with Robert Dodsley’s description of Shenstone’s important garden at The Leasowes, one of the first natural landscape gardens in England and one of the most influential,...


  17. SHEPHERD, Richard Herne.

    Forgotten Books worth remembering … No. I. Studies of Sensation and Event by Ebenezer Jones …

    London, Pickering & Co … 1878.

    An interesting collection of ‘rare tracts’, from the library of the Scottish lawyer and journalist John Skelton, who wrote for Blackwood’s under the pseudonym ‘Shirley’.


  18. 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...


  19. SHERIDAN, Richard Brinsley.

    The Speech … in the House of Commons, (8th December 1802) on the Motion for the Army Establ shment...

    London: Printed for John Stockdale … 1802

    First edition of Sheridan’s impressive speech on the army estimates, in support of funding precautions against Buonaparte’s aggression – ‘the crisis in which we are placed … so big with tremendous importance, so pregnant with mighty difficulties, so full of apprehensions and dangers ….’...


  20. [SHERIDAN, Richard Brinsley].

    The School for Scandal. A Comedy. As it is acted at the Theatre, Smoke-Alley, Dublin. [Dublin], Printed...

    [Dublin], Printed for the Booksellers. 1793

    First separate illustrated edition. The plates, newly engraved, are based on plates in A Volume of Plays [by Sheridan and others] performed at the Theatre, Smoke-Alley, Dublin, 1785 and following. They illustrate Act IV, Scene 1 (the Surface family portraits) and Act IV, Scene 2 (the screen scene). The...