English Literature

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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. [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

  2. VIRGIL Maro, Publius, and Giovanni Andrea dell’ANGUILLARA (trans.). 

    Il primo libro della Eneida di Vergilio,...

    Padua, Gratioso Perchacino, 1564. 

    First edition of the first book of Anguillara’s verse translation of the Aeneid, a copy printed on strong paper and inscribed by the author.  The humanist, poet, and successful translator of Ovid Giovanni Andrea dell’Anguillara (1517–1572) undertook to translate into Italian ottava...

    £2500

  3. [VIRGIL.]  RAMUS, Petrus (Pierre de la RAMÉE). 

    ...

    Paris, André Wechel, 1564. 

    Second editions of Ramus’s extensive commentaries on Virgil’s two poems on country life, written in reaction to the dry doctrines of several French schools who based their teaching of nature on Aristotle’s Physics.  Ramus wanted to keep in contact with the concrete realities of nature...

    £950

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. WALKER, George.

    The three Spaniards, a Romance …

    London: Printed by Sampson Low; for G. Walker ...; and Hurst ... 1800.

    First edition, very rare; the very brief Preface sets the popular tone: ‘In compliance with the present taste in literary amusement, this work is presented to the Public.’

    £4000

  7. 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

  8. WALKER, John.

    An economical History of the Hebrides and Highlands of Scotland ... in two Volumes ... Edinburgh: Printed at the...

    Edinburgh: Printed at the University Press; 1808

    First edition. The eminent naturalist John Walker (1731-1803), professor of natural history in the University of Edinburgh (Smollett was one of his students) and keeper of the university museum, made six long journeys into the Highlands and Islands from 1760 to 1786. He was commissioned by the General...

    £450

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. WAPPEROM, Jacobus Joannes. 

    Gezangen door J.J. Wapperom. 

    The Hague, 1805. 

    Very rare collection of songs by the Dutch notary and poet Wapperom (1763–1822), one of only a small number of copies produced, decorated by the author himself and distributed among his friends and family. 

    £675

  13. [WARD, Edward, and VOLTAIRE.] 

    The Humourous and Diverting Story of Two Sailors, Who, in order to recruit their Stock of...

    6, Punderson’s-Place, Bethnal-Green-Road’, [c. 1800?]. 

    Seemingly unrecorded edition of this humorous chapbook tale of two penniless sailors who turn to piracy in an attempt to pay their rent, printed with a translation of Voltaire’s Memnon and the anonymous poem ‘Clara’. 

    £450

  14. [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

  15. [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

  16. [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

  17. WHITEHEAD, William.

    Plays and Poems … in two Volumes …

    London, Printed for J. Dodsley … 1774.

    First and only edition of the collected works of William Whitehead, a protégé of Alexander Pope and poet laureate from 1757-85.

    £350

  18. [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

  19. 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

  20. [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