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. 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

  2. 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

  3. [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

  4. [DRYDEN, John].

    The Medall. A Satyre against Sedition. By the Authour of Absalom and Achitophel …

    London, Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1682.

    First edition, second issue (adding two Latin lines at the end). The medal of Dryden’s satire was that struck to celebrate Shaftesbury’s acquittal from charges of high treason. According to Spence, Charles II gave Dryden ‘the hint for writing his poem’, and rewarded him for it. In reply, Shadwell...

    £750

  5. DRYDEN, John.

    Eleonora: a Panegyrical Poem: dedicated to the Memory of the late Countess of Abingdon …

    London: Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1692.

    First edition. The countess had died in May 1691, but ‘betwixt ill health, some business, and many troubles’, publication of this eulogy was delayed until March 1692 (as the Lutrell copy is dated). The poem, commissioned by the Earl of Abingdon, praises the piety and charity of its subject, its somewhat...

    £275

  6. DRYDEN, John.

    Religio Laici or a Layman’s Faith. A Poem …

    London, Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1683.

    First edition, second issue (with a few minor corrections; Macdonald located only two copies of the first): ‘a defence of the Anglican position, which shows his singular power of arguing in verse’ (Leslie Stephen, DNB). The inspiration for the poem was the translation of Richard Simon’s Histoire...

    £400

  7. DRYDEN, John, and John BLOW.

    An Ode, on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell; late Servant to his Majesty, and Organist of the Chapel...

    London: Printed by J. Heptinstall, for Henry Playford, at his Shop … or at his House … 1696.

    First edition of Dryden’s moving elegy to his friend Purcell. The musical setting by Blow, for flutes and two counter-tenors, is generally considered his finest work.

    £6500

  8. [DUCRAY-DUMINIL, François Guillaume].

    Ambrose and Eleanor; or, the Adventures of two Children deserted on an uninhabited Island....

    London: Printed for R. and L. Peacock, at the Juvenile Library … and sold by Hookham and Carpenter … and C. Law … 1797

    Second English edition (first 1796), a translation of Lolotte et Fanfan (1788). Lucy Peacock kept a shop on Oxford Street which stocked her own and other juvenile tales. Lolotte et Fanfan (1788) evidently appealed for its didactic potential, but required significant editing: ‘many characters...

    £425

  9. D’URFEY, Thomas.

    Wit and Mirth: or Pills to purge Melancholy; being a Collection of the best merry Ballads and Songs, old and...

    London: Printed by W. Pearson, for J. Tonson ... 1719 [-20].

    The first complete edition, second issue of volumes I-V with titles altered to the familiar Wit and Mirth from Songs Compleat, 1719 (a change at the time of the publication in 1720 of volume VI, which is always entitled Wit and Mirth).

    £2250

  10. D’URFEY, Thomas.

    The Progress of Honesty: or, a View of a Court and City. A Pindarique Poem …

    London: Printed for Joseph Hindmarsh … 1681.

    First edition of an allegorical poem inspired, like Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel, by the Exclusion Crisis of 1681. ‘Honesty’ describes to ‘Error’, ‘Faction’ and ‘Beauty’ the court of Charles II (‘Titus the Second … the joy of human kind’), and the malign effects of Treason...

    £300

  11. DUTENS, Louis.

    An Inquiry into the Origin of the Discoveries attributed to the Moderns: wherein it is demonstrated, that our most...

    London: Printed for W. Griffin … 1769.

    First edition in English of Recherches sur l’origine des découvertes attribuées aux modernes (Paris, 1766), an illuminating and voluminous study of how ‘in almost all truths of the greatest importance, the ancients preceded the moderns; or at least pointed out, or prepared the way, for their...

    £300

  12. EDE.

    A Story. Three Volumes ...

    London: Remington & Co. Publishers ... 1889.

    First edition. Stifled by her boring life as the pampered daughter of a rich Midlands banker, Edith runs away to the neighbouring Potteries. She uses skills acquired as an accomplished young lady of leisure to get a job in the local porcelain factory as painter on china. She soon finds herself promoted...

    £450

  13. ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica: or, a Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and miscellaneous Literature; enlarged...

    Edinburgh and London, 1823-4.

    An extremely handsome set of the sixth edition, with the important Supplement of 1824. First published in 1771, ‘the most famous of all the encyclopaedias in the English language’ (PMM) had been expanded over successive editions from 3 to 20 volumes. The sixth edition was a largely a reprint of the...

    £10000

  14. ESSAY UPON MODERN GALLANTRY (AN).

    Address’d to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a seasonable Admonition...

    London: Printed for A. More … 1726.

    Second edition, unrecorded, published in the same year as the first – apparently from the same setting of type with the title-page altered to add the edition statement.

    £1000

  15. ETHEREGE, George.

    The comical Revenge, or Love in a Tub. Acted at his Highness the Duke of York’s Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields ...

    London, Printed for Henry Herringman ... 1669.

    Fourth edition of Etherege’s first play, preceded by two editions of 1664 and one of 1667; this is the scarcer of two printings for Herringman in 1669, with ‘fields’ rather than ‘Fields’ in the title, and the catchword ‘hope’ not ‘the’ on A2r.

    £500

  16. EYRE, Henry.

    A Brief Account of the Holt Waters, containing one Hundred and Twelve eminent Cures, perform’d by the Use of the...

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1731.

    First edition. The waters from Bath, Bristol and Holt, in Wiltshire, were the most popular English mineral waters of the eighteenth century, in no small part due to the activity of Henry Eyre, ‘Sworn Purveyor to Her Majesty [Queen Caroline, wife of George II] for all Mineral Waters’. Eyre ran a distribution...

    £750

  17. FAWKES, Francis, and William WOTY.

    The Poetical Calendar. Containing a Collection of scarce and valuable Pieces of Poetry …

    London, Printed by J. Dryden Leach for J. Coote … 1763.

    First edition. Volume XI (November) includes the first publication of the collected verse of William Collins. Samuel Johnson provided most of the account of Collins which appears in the volume for December and was later reprinted in The Lives of the Poets. Boswell thought it ‘one of the...

    £3750

  18. FEDORCHENKO, Sophia and Afanasy KULIKOV.

    На Крылышах [On little wings].

    Moscow, Gosudarstvennoe izdatelstvo ‘Krasnyi Proletarni’, 1927.

    First edition of this collection of verses for children on birds and butterflies, deftly illustrated by Kulikov.

    £300

  19. FIDDES, Richard.

    A General Treatise of Morality, form’d upon the Principles of natural Reason only. With a Preface in Answer...

    London: Printed for S. Billingsley … 1724.

    First edition, the variant with the misprint ‘FIDDFS’ in the author’s name on the title. ‘Written against Shaftesbury’s Inquiry Concerning Virtue and Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, and displaying marked sympathy with the works of Malebranche and [John] Norris of Bemerton, this book was a...

    £850

  20. FIELDING, Henry.

    The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling …

    Paris: Printed by Fr. Amb. Didot the eldest, and sold by J. N. Pissot, and Barrois Junior … Booksellers. 1780.

    The first French edition in English of Fielding’s masterpiece, only the second English edition to be printed abroad (after Dresden, 1774). Here the text benefits from critical attention by Didot, who collated Murphy’s edition of Fielding’s Works with the last separate English edition.

    £425