English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees

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. [COLONNA, Francesco.] 

    Poliphili hypnerotomachia, ubi humana omnia non nisi somnium esse ostendit, atque obiter plurima scitu...

    Venice, [heirs of Aldus], 1545. 

    Second edition, scarcer than the first (also an Aldine, published in 1499), of the most beautiful illustrated books printed in Italy in the fifteenth century.  Known for its fine woodcut illustrations, mysterious meanings, and the cryptic inclusion of Colonna’s name, the Hypnerotomachia...

    £24000

  2. 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

  3. GALLICO, Paul.

    An archive of thirty-four scrapbooks compiled by Gallico.

    1928–1972.

    A lovingly and meticulously compiled archive of the writing career of the novelist Paul Gallico. The scrapbooks are arranged chronologically and by book/film with letters, telegrams, publicity materials, photographs and ephemera neatly intermingled with copies of reviews and reactions from local,...

    £5500

  4. [JOHNSON, Samuel]. 

    The Prince of Abissinia.  A Tale … 

    London: Printed for R. and J Dodsley and W. Johnston ... 1759.

    First edition of Johnson’s only novel, written in the evenings of a single week to pay for his mother’s funeral.  Its rapid execution is said to have been due to the fact that he had been pondering its chief topics all his life.  It soon became his most popular work.  Although now inevitably...

    £4500

  5. WALKER, George.

    The three Spaniards, a Romance …

    London: Printed by Sampson Low; for G. Walker ...; and Hurst ... 1800.

    First edition, very rare; the very brief Preface sets the popular tone: ‘In compliance with the present taste in literary amusement, this work is presented to the Public.’

    £4000

  6. RADCLIFFE, Ann.

    The Mysteries of Udolpho, a Romance; interspersed with some Pieces of Poetry ... in four Volumes ...

    London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson ... 1794.

    First edition of a cornerstone of gothic fiction, ‘a book so rich in Gothic ideas and techniques that its far-reaching influence can scarcely be overstated … Its wild and lush landscapes became ubiquitous too, in the imagination of contemporaries, and it is no surprise to find Keats, in 1818, writing...

    £3500

  7. WALKER, George.

    Don Raphael, a Romance …

    London: Printed for G. Walker; and T. Hurst; by Exton ... 1803.

    First edition. ‘In order to satisfy the omnipresent needs of the Gothic industry, Walker apparently felt obliged to turn out a Gothic’s Gothic made up of fragments of Walpole, Beckford, Lewis, Radcliffe, and the cheap and tawdry Gothic chapbooks flooding the bookstalls. The dubious product...

    £3250

  8. [BECKFORD, William.]

    Vathek, conte Arabe.

    Paris, Chez Poinçot ... 1787.

    First Paris edition of Beckford’s gothic masterpiece in the original French, so considerably revised from the Lausanne edition (also 1787) as to amount to ‘almost a new version’ (Chapman & Hodgkin, p. 127). Beckford also took the opportunity to expand the notes from one to twenty-four pages.

    £3250

  9. [GREENE, Asa.]

    The perils of Pearl Street, including a taste of the dangers of Wall Street, by a late merchant.

    New York, Betts & Anstice and Peter Hill, 1834.

    First edition of a very early Wall Street novella, the fictional tale of Billy Hazard, an innocent carpenter’s son from rural New York state determined to make it as a merchant in the city. Billy’s attempts to establish himself in the mercantile trade in New York City are ultimately unsuccessful...

    £2750

  10. NICOLAI, [Christoph] Friedrich. 

    The Life and Opinions of Sebaldus Nothanker.  Translated from the German … by Thomas Dutton,...

    London: Printed by C. Lowndes, and sold by H.D. Symonds, 1798. 

    First edition in English, very scarce, of Nicolai’s Das Leben und die Meinungen des Herrn Magister Sebaldus Nothanker (1773–6), ‘probably the literary bestseller of the German Enlightenment’ (Selwyn), translated into many languages and much re-printed.  It is sometimes considered...

    £2750

  11. STRAPAROLA, Giovanfrancesco.

    Le piacevoli notti di messer Giovanfrancesco Straparola da Caravaggio.

    Venice, Domenico Giglio, 1558.

    An early edition of both volumes of Straparola’s Facetious nights, first published in 1550–53.

    £2750

  12. [HERVEY, Elizabeth].

    The Mourtray Family. A Novel …

    London: Printed by Millar Ritchie … for R. Faulder … 1800.

    First edition of the penultimate novel by Elizabeth Hervey (c. 1748–1820), elder half-sister of the writer William Beckford – her father, Francis Marsh, had died and her mother Maria (née Hamilton) remarried another Jamaica plantation owner, William Beckford senior, who also died in...

    £2500

  13. ELIOT, George.

    The Writings …

    Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1908.

    The Large-Paper edition of Eliot’s complete works, no. 184 of 750 sets.

    £2500

  14. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    The Childermass … Section 1.

    London, Chatto & Windus, 1928.

    First edition, no. 74 of 225 copies of the special edition, signed by Lewis, additionally inscribed, in c. 1951, ‘To Geoffrey Bridson (through whom I am enabled to finish this book) – deepest thanks and friendliest greetings / Wyndham Lewis’.

    £2500

  15. MANLEY, Mrs. [Delarivier]. 

    The Power of Love: in seven Novels viz. I. The fair Hypocrite. II. The Physician’s Stratagem....

    London, Printed for John Barber … and John Morphew … 1720.

    First edition, apparently a presentation copy, of Delarivier Manley’s last work of prose, a collection of seven amorous novellas partly derived from William Painter’s Palace of Pleasure (1566), ‘adding divers new Incidents’, and supplemented by several original compositions. Historically...

    £2500

  16. [BAGE, Robert].

    Hermsprong; or, Man as he is not. A Novel … By the Author of Man as he is.

    London: Printed for William Lane, at the Minerva Press … 1796.

    First edition of Bage’s last and finest novel.

    £2400

  17. LUCIAN, of Samosata.

    Deorum dialogi... una cum interpretatione e regione latina nusquam antea impressi...

    Strassbourg, Johannes Schott, 1515.

    First edition edited and translated by the German humanist (and musician) Ottmar Nachtgall.

    £2100

  18. BINGFIELD, William, pseud.

    The Travels and Adventures of William Bingfield, Esq; containing, as surprizing a Fluctuation...

    London: Printed for E. Withers ... and R. Baldwin ... 1753.

    First edition of one of the most entertaining imaginary voyages of the eighteenth century.

    £2100

  19. DICKENS, Charles. 

    The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club … with forty-three illustrations, by R. Seymour and Phiz. 

    London, Chapman & Hall, 1837. 

    First edition, first issue.  The Pickwick Papers was serialised in twenty parts from April 1836, the novel reaching its conclusion in November 1837, when it was also released as a three-decker.  It was both Dickens’s most popular work and the launch of his relationship with Hablot K. Browne...

    £2000

  20. LEWIS, Wyndham. 

    The Human Age.  Book Two, Monstre Gai.  Book Three, Malign Fiesta.  Illustrations by Michael Ayrton. 

    London, Methuen & Co. Ltd., [1955]. 

    First edition, inscribed ‘To Geoffrey Bridson – you who did so much to make the completion of this book possible, and who was chiefly responsible for its translation into Radio drama – I salute you. / Wyndham Lewis’. 

    £1750