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. VITRUVIUS.

    L’Architecture de Vitruve. Figures dessinées par M. Ch.-L. Maufras, …. Exemplaire unique.

    Paris, C.L.F. Panckoucke, 1847

    A tongue-in-cheek nod to the fashion for Limited Edition books, and an illustrative oddity. The volume comprises India paper proof impressions mounted on heavy paper of Maufras’s illustrations (engraved by Belhatte) to the Panckoucke edition of Vitruvius, with a specially printed title-page and long...

    £1200

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. WALTON, Izaak.

    The Life of Mr. George Herbert … To which are added some Letters written by Mr. George Herbert, at his being in...

    London: Printed by Tho: Newcomb, for Rich: Marriott, sold by most Booksellers. 1670.

    First edition, second issue, with a cancel title-page adding mention of the Letters. There are four letters from Donne, one including a sonnet, and a poem at the end by Crashaw. The life, ‘a tissue of paraphrase and quotation, more Herbert than Walton’ (Oxford DNB), would also appear later in the...

    £950

  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. [WARD, Robert Plumer].

    De Clifford; or, The Constant Man. By the Author of “Tremaine” … in four Volumes …

    London: Henry Colburn … 1841.

    First edition of Ward’s last Silver Fork novel, published some fourteen years after De Vere, or, The Man of Independence. Ward was now seventy-six, and a ‘fashionable’ novel of this kind was ‘well out of its time’; so that De Clifford, while as accomplished as its predecessors, did not have...

    £350

  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. WATSON, Robert Grant.

    A history of Persia from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the year 1858, with a review of the principal...

    London, Smith, Elder and Co., 1866.

    First edition. Watson, a British diplomat, writes to provide an account of the first half of the nineteenth century in Persia. Relying, as he notes, on both Persian and European accounts, he sketches the circumstances of the Qajar rise to rule in the eighteenth century, and the tumultuous events...

    £560

  12. [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

  13. WESTALL, William.

    Roy of Roy’s Court … Vol. I [-II].

    London, Ward & Downey, 1892.

    First edition of ‘this story of “battles, sieges, fortunes”’ set in France in the time of Napoleon. Westall, the son of a Lancashire cotton spinner, became Times correspondent in Geneva and a friend of the Russian revolutionaries of his day.

    £275

  14. [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

  15. [WHITE, Charles].

    The Adventures of a King’s Page. By the Author of “Almack’s Revisited.” ... In three Volumes ...

    London: Henry Colburn ... 1829.

    First edition of a witty novel by the author of Almack’s Revisited (that marvellous parvenu’s manual disguised as a satire on parvenus). The Adventures of a King’s Page has a wider scope than the social hothouse of the silver fork novel, featuring a pageant of (among others) military men, foreigners,...

    £450

  16. 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

  17. WILLIAMS, Anna.

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse …

    London: Printed for T. Davies … 1766.

    First edition, scarce, of the blind poet Anna Williams’s Miscellanies, bound with the first edition of a volume of fifty Latin poems by Samuel Bishop.

    £3250

  18. 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

  19. 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

  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