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. DAY, Thomas.

    The History of Sandford and Merton; a Work intended for the Use of Children …

    London: Printed for B. Crosby … Darton and Harvey … and T. Ostell … 1803.

    First edition thus of Thomas Day’s wildly popular story for children, here in ‘a more reduced form’ as ‘the price of the original work may be incommodious to … young readers’. This was was not the same text as the ‘Abridged’ version first published by Wallis and Newbery (and by Darton...

    £150

  2. [DEFOE, Daniel].

    A Letter to the Dissenters.

    London: Printed for John Morphew … 1713.

    First edition, the state with p. 48 numbered correctly. This tract is an admonition to Defoe’s fellow Dissenters, ‘saying that they enjoy great privileges at present, the Queen having undertaken to maintain the Toleration Act and even having for long resisted the Act against Occasional Conformity....

    £750

  3. DEGUERLE, Jean Nicolas Marie.

    Les amours.

    Paris, Maison and Pigoreau, An V [1797-8].

    An apparently unrecorded collection of verses inspired by the Augustan poets by the French poet, translator, and educator Jean Nicolas Marie Deguerle (1766 – 1824).

    £385

  4. DENHAM, Sir John.

    Poems and Translations, with The Sophy ... .

    London, Printed for H. Herringman ... 1668

    First edition, the definitive collection, published the year before the author’s death, containing 25 pieces, fourteen of them new. It begins with Denham’s famous topographical poem, Cooper’s Hill. The bawdy ‘Dialogue between Sir John Pooley and Mr. Thomas Killigrew’, about Killigrew’s...

    £1100

  5. DENNIS, John.

    The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry, contain’d in some new Discoveries never made before, requisite for the Writing...

    London, Printed for Geo. Strahan … and Bernard Lintott … 1704.

    First edition. Published as a ‘preliminary’ to a proposed, but never completed, masterwork, The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry comprises a Preface, Proposal and ‘Specimen’, the latter being an essay substantially on Milton, ‘one of the greatest and most daring Genius’s that has appear’d...

    £1250

  6. DENNIS, John.

    An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakespear: with some Letters of Criticism to the Spectator … London: Printed...

    London, 1704-1716.

    First editions of Dennis and Sewell, later edition of Gay with cancel title-page.

    £1250

  7. DESENFANS, Noel Joseph.

    Les deux Hermites, dédié a mylord Lyttelton …

    A Londres; chez R. Davis … J Ridley … W Owen … 1773.

    First and only edition, uncommon, of an epistolary novel by the future art dealer Noel Joseph Desenfans. The scene is Paris in the 1680s, the theme is Enlightenment, and the author’s aim was to inspire ‘l’horreur de l’oppression, sentiment nécessaire à l’harmonie de la Société, & vertu...

    £650

  8. DESFORGES, Pierre Choudard.

    Tom Jones a Londres, Comédie en cinq actes et en vers, tirée du roman de Fielding … Réprésentée,...

    Paris, Chez Prault, Imprimeur du Roi … 1789.

    Later edition, first published 1782. Desforges’s dramatic adaptation of Fielding’s novel was followed in 1788 by an apparently inferior sequel, Tom Jones et Fellamar.

    £95

  9. DESLANDES, André François Boureau.

    Dying Merrily: or, historical and critical Reflexions on the Conduct of great Men in all Ages,...

    London: Printed for M. Cooper ... 1745

    First edition of this translation of Réfléxions sur le grands homes que sont morts en plaisantant (1712). The translator T. W. has not been identified. A different translation by Abel Boyer, interspersed with English verse (presumably at the suggestion of Boyer), had appeared in 1713 under the...

    £450

  10. DIBDIN, C[harles], the younger.

    Mirth and Metre: consisting of Poems, serious, humorous, and satirical; Songs, Sonnets, Ballads,...

    London: Printed for Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe ... by W. Wilson. 1807

    First edition of the first collection of verse by the manager of Sadler’s Wells, including a section of songs from his ‘most approved’ pantomimes and ‘scenic’ productions. The ticket of a Newark bookseller makes it likely that the stamp ‘Newstead’ refers to Byron’s ancestral home, Newstead...

    £225

  11. DICKENS, Charles.

    Mäster Humphreys Klocka … Förra [–Sednare] Delen.

    Stockholm, Hos. L. J. Hjerta, 1842.

    First edition in Swedish, very rare, of Master Humphrey’s Clock (1840-1), comprising the framing narrative of short stories, followed by The Old Curiosity Shop (‘Den Gamla Antiqvitets-boden’). Barnaby Rudge, omitted here, was published separately in 1845.

    £850

  12. DICKENS, Charles.

    The Nonesuch Dickens. The Complete Works of Charles Dickens.

    London, The Nonesuch Press, 1937-38.

    Limited edition of 877, of which 66 sets were destroyed when a bomb hit the bindery in September 1940, so at most 811 complete sets survive (Dreyfus, Nonesuch Press, 108). The steel plate included with this set is number 605, “Solemn reference is made to Mr. Bunsby” from Dombey and...

    £6750

  13. DILWORTH, W. H.

    The History of the Conquest of Mexico, by the celebrated Hernan Cortes. Containing a faithful and entertaining...

    London: Printed for William Anderson … 1759.

    First edition, very scarce, of a history of the conquistadores for young readers, loosely derived from Antonio Solís de Ribadeneyra’s Historia de la Conquista de México.

    £1850

  14. [DISNEY, John].

    Memoirs of Thomas Brand-Hollis Esq. ...

    London: Printed by T. Gillet ... 1808.

    First edition of a privately printed memoir of Thomas Brand of the Hyde, who assumed the name Brand-Hollis on inheriting the Dorset estates (and library and collection of sculpture) of his friend the ‘Republican’ Thomas Hollis, the Whig bibliophile. The author, John Disney, a close friend of Thomas...

    £750

  15. D’ISRAELI, Isaac.

    Romances …

    London: Printed for Cadell and Davies … Murray and Highley … J. Harding … and J. Wright. 1799.

    First edition, a collection of three prose tales by the father of the novelist and Prime Minister, with an introductory ‘Poetical Essay on Romance and Romancers’. The longest piece is ‘Mejnoun and Leila, the Arabian Petrarch and Laura’, which has echoes of Beckford and draws on the learned orientalism...

    £950

  16. [DODSLEY, Robert, editor].

    A Collection of Poems. By several Hands. In three Volumes.

    London: Printed for R. Dodsley … 1748.

    First edition, the most influential poetical miscellany of the eighteenth century. Dodsley’s avowed aim was ‘to preserve to the public those poetical performances, which seemed to merit a longer rememberance than what would probably be secured to them by the Manner wherein they were originally published’....

    £450

  17. DONNE, John.

    Poems … with Elegies on the Authors Death …

    London. Printed by M. F. for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1633.

    First edition of what may arguably be called the greatest poetical collection of the seventeenth century. This is the issue (precedence not established, but presumably the first) without the inserted leaves 2A2 (‘The Printer to the Understanders’ and ‘Hexastichon Bibliopolae’) and with Nn1 in...

    £15000

  18. DONNE, John.

    Poems … with Elegies on the authors Death …

    London, Printed by M. F. for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1635.

    Second edition, adding seventeen new poems by Donne (and eleven false attributions), and three more elegies on his death. The poems have been rearranged into sections, headed ‘Songs and Sonets’, ‘Elegies’, ‘Epithalamions’. ‘Satyres’, and ‘Letters’, ‘Divine Poems’, etc. Two poems...

    £4500

  19. DONOUGHUE, A.

    An Essay on the Passions: with other Poems … Shrewsbury: Printed by T. Wood … for P. Owen … Welshpool; sold...

    Welshpool; sold by Champante and Whitrow … London, and all the Booksellers in Shrewsbury. 1799.

    First edition. ‘I have felt as many woes as ever tore the bosom of a Petrarch’, writes the author in the Preface, ‘and have struggled with as many penurious calamities as ever agonized the soul of a Chatterton; will not then a generous public pardon my presumption, when informed, that I woke my...

    £325

  20. [DORAT, Claude-Joseph].

    Epitre de Pierre Bagnolet, citoyen de Gonesse, aux grands hommes du jour.

    [s.l., s.p., c.1770].

    First edition of this brief satire on Rousseau by the prolific French writer Claude-Joseph Dorat (1734-1780), echoing his popular (except with its targets) satire on the philosophes, Le Tartufe littéraire (1774). The citoyen de Gonesse cautions against philosophical pride, but Dorat‘s mockery of Rousseau...

    £325