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. VERTOT, Abbé de.

    The History of the Revolutions of Portugal. By M. l’Abbe de Vertot, member of the Royal Academy of Inscriptions...

    Glasgow, printed by R. Urie for D. Baxter, 1750.

    Uncommon first Glasgow edition of this English translation of the Histoire des révolutions de Portugal, a classic account of the Portuguese Restoration War against Spain (1640-1668) by the French historian René-Aubert Vertot (1655–1735).

    £150

  2. [VETTORI, Antonio].

    Sferza poetica contro i costumi d’oggidi. Del D.A.V. mantovano frà gli Arcadi di Roma Oribaste Didimense....

    [Colophon]: Si vende in Fierra di Venezia da Domenico Pompeati, 1777.

    Uncommon collection of sonnets musing on contemporary vices, seemingly the only published work by the Mantua poet, and member of the Roman Arcadi, Antonio Vettori. Divided into two parts, the collection contains 28 sonnets, each with accompanying notes, on subjects including the theatre, games, women,...

    £350

  3. 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

  4. WALKER, George.

    Don Raphael, a Romance …

    London: Printed for G. Walker; and T. Hurst; by Exton ... 1803.

    First edition. ‘In order to satisfy the omnipresent needs of the Gothic industry, Walker apparently felt obliged to turn out a Gothic’s Gothic made up of fragments of Walpole, Beckford, Lewis, Radcliffe, and the cheap and tawdry Gothic chapbooks flooding the bookstalls. The dubious product...

    £3250

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

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

    Second (but 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...

    £850

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. [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

  10. 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

  11. [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

  12. [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

  13. [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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. [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

  17. WHITE MARIO, Jessie. 

    Sepolcri inglesi a Roma. 

    Rome, Tipografia Barbera, 1879. 

    First edition, extremely rare, of this offprint of an article on the burials of the English Romantic poets in Rome by the renowned ‘Miss Hurricane’. 

    £400

  18. 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

  19. [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

  20. 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