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. BUONACCORSI, Biagio, and Niccolò VALORI. 

    Diario de’ successi piu importanti seguiti in Italia, & particolarmente in...

    Florence, Filippo & Jacopo Giunta, 1568. 

    First edition of an insider account of Medici politics by Biagio Buonaccorsi (1472–1522), colleague and confidant of Machiavelli, bound with the first edition of Malespini’s history of Florence and owned by Claude-Enoch Virey, secretary to Henri II de Bourbon, Prince de Condé. 

    £1000

  2. BUQUOY, Georg Franz August de Longueval, Freiherr von Vaux, Graf von.

    Anregungen für philosophisch-wissenschaftliche Forschung...

    Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1825.

    First edition, rare, of a comprehensive discussion by the author of his personal philosophy, with c. 50 pages of his poetry thrown in at the end for good measure. Samuel Hahnemann refers to the work in Die chronischen Krankheiten (1828–30), calling Buquoy a ‘deep-thinking, many-sided scholar and...

    £950

  3. [BURNEY, Frances, Madame D’ARBLAY].

    Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress. By the Author of Evelina. The third Edition ...

    London: Printed for T. Payne and Son ... and T. Cadell ... 1783.

    Third edition, published in March 1783. This is one of only a small number of novels in the library purchased by Mary Sandys before her marriage to Arthur Hill in 1786.

    £250

  4. BURNS, Robert.

    Autograph verse ‘Epitaph’ to ‘Grizzel Grim’

    c. 1792.

    A charming bawdy ‘epitaph’ by Burns, written seemingly impromptu on the back of a scrap paper relating to his job as an exciseman.

    £15000

  5. [BURNS, Robert.] BRIGHT, Henry A[rthur].

    Some Account of the Glenriddell MSS. of Burns’s Poems: with several Poems never before...

    Liverpool, Gilbert G. Walmsley …, 1874.

    First edition, scarce, a presentation copy: a privately-printed catalogue of the famous Glenriddell manuscripts; Burns’s preface and several poems are printed here for the first time.

    £100

  6. [BURY, Lady Charlotte].

    The Exclusives. In three Volumes ...

    London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley ... 1830.

    First edition of a society novel written after the enormous success of Marianne Spencer Stanhope’s Almack’s (1826), a roman à clef centred on the fashionable assembly rooms in St. James’s. In The Exclusives Lady Tilney plans a new coterie as Almack’s is in decline (‘that...

    £950

  7. [BUTLER, John].

    Some Account of the Character of the late Right Honourable Henry Bilson Legge.

    London: Printed for J. Almon … 1764.

    First edition. Henry Bilson Legge (1708-1764), three times chancellor of the exchequer between 1754 and 1761, attracted both respect and censure. To Pitt, he was ‘the child, and deservedly the favourite child, of the Whigs’. Horace Walpole, on the other hand, thought him a man ‘of a creeping, underhand...

    £200

  8. [BYRON, George Gordon, Lord].

    Lara, a Tale. [and] Jacqueline, a Tale [by Samuel Rogers].

    London: Printed for John Murray … 1814.

    First edition, Randolph’s fourth variant (with the crooked roman numeral on p. 82 and the fallen period on p. 20). By 1814 Byron was heavily pressed by debts, having previously refused payment for his poems. For Lara, the fourth of Byron’s Levantine poems, published on the back of The Corsair...

    £400

  9. BYRON, George Gordon Noël, Lord Byron

    Manfred, a dramatic poem. 

    London, John Murray, 1817. 

    A contemporary sammelband of three works by Byron, two of them in first edition. 

    £950

  10. CADOGAN, William Bromley.

    The Felicity of God’s Children, considered in a Sermon, preached upon the Death of a Lady, in the parish...

    Reading: Printed and Sold by Smart and Cowslade; and sold by J. Rusher, Reading; Messrs. Robinsons, V. Griffiths ... & J. Matthews ... London;...

    First edition, a funeral sermon by the popular preacher William Bromley Cadogan, a friend of John Newton, for the local widow Maria Littlehales, printed at the request of her children. A younger son of the third Earl of Cadogan, the well-connected churchman was vicar of St. Giles, Reading, and rector...

    £75

  11. CAMPBELL, Duncan. 

    A Poem upon Tea.  Wherein its Antiquity, its several Virtues and Influences are set forth; and the Wisdom...

    London, Mrs. Dodd, J. Roberts, J. Wilcox et al., 1735. 

    First and only edition, very scarce, of a series of poetical sketches in praise of tea over alcohol, dedicated ‘To the Fair Sex’ and with an unusual double preface to the masculine and then the feminine reader.  Tea had arrived in Britain in the 1650s, but its expense made it very exclusive;...

    £2500

  12. CAMPBELL, Thomas.

    Autograph letter, signed, to the novelist and socialite Lady Morgan, explaining why he cannot join her party.

    ‘Wednesday Morning’, no date, but late 1840.

    ‘I have been dying also several times during the last six months – I hope however to survive a few weeks when I shall be nearer to you when, in my new house in Victoria Square, I shall hope to see you frequently.’ Campbell suffered increasing ill health towards the end of his life, but continued...

    £175

  13. CARDONNEL, Adam de.

    Picturesque Antiquities of Scotland [I–II] …

    London: Printed for the Author, and sold by Edwards … also by Edwards’s, in Halifax. 1788.

    First edition, the very rare issue with the plates in sepia, printed directly onto thick wove paper.

    £975

  14. CAREY, Henry.

    The Dramatick Works …

    London: Printed by S. Gilbert, 1743.

    First collected edition, published in the year of Carey’s death, with his final revisions, ‘not only free from the errors of false and spurious editions, published without my knowledge and consent, but (upon this occasion) revised and improv’d, even from my own original copies’.

    £650

  15. CARO, Annibale. 

    Rime del commendatore Annibal Caro.  Col privilegio di N.S. PP. Pio V. et dell’illustrissima signoria di...

    Venice, Aldus Manutius the Younger, 1569. 

    First edition of the poetry of Annibale Caro, offering a scathing yet humorous critique of his greatest poetic rival, Ludovico Castelvetro. 

    £650

  16. CARR, Lisle.

    Judith Gwynne …

    Henry S. King & Co. … London, 1873

    First edition, a scarce romance-cum-society novel.

    £200

  17. ‘CARROLL, Lewis’ [i.e. Charles Lutwidge DODGSON].

    Feeding the Mind ... With a Prefatory Note by William H. Draper.

    London, Billing and Sons, Ltd for Chatto and Windus, 1907.

    First edition in book form, wrappers issue. ‘A short paper or lecture delivered in Oct. 1884 in the Derbyshire vicarage of Alfreton before a public audience. It is a comparison of feeding the mind with feeding the body in such points as proper food at proper intervals (a “fat mind”), mastication...

    £100

  18. [CARTOUCHE.]

    The Life and Actions of Lewis Dominique Cartouche: who was broke alive upon the Wheel at Paris, Nov. 28. 1721. N.S....

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1722.

    First edition in English, published in the same year as the French original. Louis Dominique Bourguignon, alias ‘Cartouche’ (1693-1721), began his life of crime stealing fruit from women at the gates of his Jesuit school and books from his wealthy classmates. To avoid punishment for theft he fled...

    £1750

  19. CARTWRIGHT, William.

    Comedies, Tragi-comedies, with other Poems … the Ayres and Songs set by Mr Henry Lawes, Servant to his late...

    London, Printed for Humphrey Moseley … 1651.

    First edition of the witty and elegant drama and verse of a celebrated ‘son of Ben’, who said ‘My son Cartwright writes like a man’. According to Evelyn, Charles I reckoned The Royall Slave ‘the best that was ever acted’ after he saw it as the main entertainment on the royal progress...

    £1750

  20. [CASTILLO Y SORIANO, José del.]

    Amor á la creacion. Poesia dedicada á la Sociedad Madrileña Protectora de los Animales y de...

    Madrid, Sociedad de Tipógrafos, 1879.

    Very rare survival: a poem in twenty-four stanzas each of five lines devoted to the celebration of animals and plants, dedicated to the Madrid Society for the protection of nature, and publicly read by the actress Carolina Civili on the occasion of the May 1879 exhibition of plants and birds....

    £375