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. [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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. [DICKENS, Charles.]

    Catalogue of the Beautiful Collection of modern Pictures, water-colour Drawings, and Objects of Art, of Charles...

    [1870].

    Original edition. So great was the interest in this famous sale that a facsimile of the catalogue was issued by Field and Tuer in the same year.

    £1000

  11. 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

  12. [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

  13. 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

  14. [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

  15. 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

  16. DONNE, John.

    Juvenilia or certaine Paradoxes and Problemes … The second Edition, corrected.

    London, Printed by E. P. for Henry Seyle … 1633.

    Second edition, published in the same year as the first, with the omission of the licences to print but adding twenty-three new lines to Problem I, ‘Why have Bastards best Fortune’ (‘Because Fortune herself is a Whore …’), a Problem which, Keynes remarks, ‘was particularly insulting to the...

    £3750

  17. DONNE, John.

    Six Sermons upon severall Occasions, preached before the King, and elsewhere: by that late learned & reverend Divine...

    Printed by the Printers to the University of Cambridge: and are to be sold by Nicholas Fussell and Humphrey Mosley ... 1634.

    First edition of all six texts, each one with its separate title page. Six Sermons comprises ‘Two Sermons Preached before King Charles, upon the xxvi verse of the first Chapter of Genesis’, ‘A Sermon upon the xix verse of the ii Chapter of Hosea’, ‘A Sermon upon the xliiii verse of the...

    £3750

  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. DONNE, John.

    Letters to severall Persons of Honour ... published by John Donne Dr. of the Civill Law.

    London, Printed by J. Flesher, for Richard Marriot ... 1651.

    First edition, first issue. In 1651, John Donne’s son ‘issued a volume containing 129 Letters to severall persons of honour; these letters were not “edited” by him according to the standards of the present day, as, although printed with reasonable care, their arrangement is irregular and...

    £3200

  20. DOUBLEDAY, Thomas.

    The Eve of St Mark: a Romance of Venice …

    London: Smith, Elder, & Co. … 1857.

    First edition, an adventurous tale of ‘Venice as it was in 1590’ by the radical politician and author Thomas Doubleday. The ill-fated Raymond Delancy, a Catholic exile from England, lands in Venice in the middle of the night, just in time to overhear and thwart an assassination plot. His father,...

    £375