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. [CURLL, Edmund, editor].

    Impartial Memorials of the Life and Writings of Thomas Hearne, M.A. by several Hands.

    London: Printed in the Year 1736.

    First separate edition (based on John Bilstone’s hostile preface to Hearne’s Vindication of those who take the Oath of Allegiance, 1731, and first printed in this form as part of volume III of Curll’s edition of Mr. Pope’s Literary Correspondence, 1735).

    £450

  2. 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

  3. [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

  4. [DEFOE, Daniel].

    Observations on the Fifth Article of the Treaty of Union, humbly offered to the Consideration of the Parliament,...

    Edinburgh, 1706

    Sole edition. Before the Treaty of Union, England, ‘very careful to Encourage her own Shipping, and … Building of Ships, being one of the Principal Foundations of her Wealth’, did not admit foreign-built ships to the freedom of English ports. Foreign owners and foreign bottoms were both excluded....

    £950

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. DENNIS, John.

    The select Works … in two Volumes … London, Printed by John Darby … 1718. [With:]

    –––––––––––––....

    London, 1718-1720.

    First editions. Dennis, best known for his critical writings, was also a poet and a moderately successful author of plays, and all three genres are represented in his Select Works, including his tragedies Iphigenia and Appius and Virginia, and his influential essay The Grounds...

    £1750

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. DICKENS, Charles.

    Great expectations ... In three volumes. Vol. I [-III]. Second edition.

    London, (C. Whiting for) Chapman and Hall, 1861.

    First edition, second impression, of one of the great Victorian novels, which was already in short supply in 1861. After Great Expectations had attracted a large readership in All the Year Round, Chapman and Hall were understandably cautious in their initial order for the novel as a traditional three-decker...

    £4750

  16. 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

  17. [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

  18. 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

  19. [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

  20. 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