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. 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

  2. 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

  3. [WARREN, Samuel.]

    Ten Thousand a-Year.

    Edinburgh & London, Ballantyne & Hughes for William Blackwood & Sons, 1841.

    First English (and first authorised) edition of an influential legal novel, a satire in which a young upstart, Tittlebat Titmouse, discovers he is worth the massive endowment of the story’s title, and must defend himself against a host of avaricious villains of the legal profession bearing equally...

    £750

  4. WARREN, Samuel.

    Miscellanies critical, imaginative, and juridical, contributed to Blackwood’s Magazine.

    Edinburgh & London, William Blackwood & Sons, 1855.

    First edition of miscellaneous writings of the lawyer and novelist Samuel Warren. The Miscellanies were subsequently reissued by Blackwood with four other volumes of Warren’s works printed between 1854 and 1855; the text was also printed in two volumes.

    £100

  5. [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

  6. [WEDDING POETRY.]

    Applausi alli felicissimi sponsali dell’illustrissimo Sig. Cavaliere Deifebo Perini Brancadori, con l’illustrissima...

    Siena, Stamperia del Pubblico, 1699.

    Seemingly unrecorded collection of sonnets written to mark the marriage of two Sienese nobles, Deifebo Perini Brancadori and Ottavia Orlandini. The fourteen sonnets, whose authorship remains unknown, take inspiration from the family name of the groom and aspects of the arms of both families, with...

    £350

  7. [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

  8. WETZELL, Madame.

    Les Matinées de la poupée, ou récréations d’une petite fille.

    Paris, J. Langlumé, [1844?].

    First and only edition, very rare, of a charming illustrated account of a girl’s doll. Brillantine, a doll, is given to Célénie for company while her elder sister Alméa is in Africa; the book recounts in detail their relationship over the course of a week, from Brillantine’s arrival with...

    £450

  9. 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

  10. [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

  11. WHITMAN, Walt, and Antonio FRASCONI (illustrator).

    A Whitman Portrait.

    [New York, Spiral Press, 1960.]

    First edition, comprising extracts from Leaves of Grass, facsimile letters and a selection of woodcut ‘portraits’ by Frasconi. Numbered 149 of 525 copies signed by Frasconi, printed on Japanese Goyu paper.

    £250

  12. [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

  13. 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

  14. [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

  15. [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

  16. [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

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. 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