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. DICKENS, Charles.

    Mäster Humphreys Klocka … Förra [–Sednare] Delen.

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

    First edition in Swedish, 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.


  2. 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...


  3. 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...


  4. 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.


  5. 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.


  6. FIELDING, Henry.

    The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. In six Volumes …

    London: Printed for A. Millar … 1749.

    Second edition, although not so designated, the errata corrected and the errata leaf in volume I omitted (the ‘Contents’ extended to c8 recto to fill the gap). The first edition (2000 copies) was almost completely subscribed before publication when this second edition (1500 copies) was ordered....


  7. [FIELDING, Sarah.] 

    The adventures of David Simple: containing an account of his travels through the cities of London and Westminster,...

    London, printed for A. Millar, 1744. 

    First edition, very fine.  The first and most popular novel of Sarah, the sister of Henry Fielding, who was to provide a preface and a few revisions to the second edition. 


  8. [FRANCE.]

    L’Ombre du feu Cardinal: or, Cardinal Fleury’s Ghost. Translated from the original French Manuscript of the Abbè...

    London, Printed, and sold by J. Roberts … B. Milles … and the Booksellers of London and Westminster. 1743.

    First edition, ostensibly translated from a manuscript rescued by an Officer of the Guards at the Bastille, but in fact an original English thrust at French foreign policy following the death of Cardinal André-Hercule de Fleury, the able chief minister of Louis XV and political ally of Sir Robert Walpole.


  9. GALLICO, Paul.

    An archive of thirty-four scrapbooks compiled by Gallico.


    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,...


  10. GAY, John.

    The Beggar’s Opera … The third Edition: with the Ouverture in Score, the Songs, and the Basses … compos’d by...

    London: John Watts, 1729.

    Third (and only quarto) edition of The Beggar’s Opera, printed in this format to match the first edition of the sequel Polly. Though Gay’s lasting fame rests on The Beggar’s Opera, in his own time it was sustained by his much reprinted Fables, here found in the first...


  11. GLAISTER, Elizabeth.

    The Perfect Path. A Novel … in two Volumes …

    London, Smith, Elder, & Co. … 1884.

    First and only edition, scarce. The novel opens among a group of English expatriates in Mentone on the French Riviera, where Colonel Ashby wastes money at Monte Carlo. His spirited, ‘slangy’ and distinctly wayward daughter, Cordelia, is invited to live with her aunt in rural England, where her greatest...


  12. GODWIN, William.

    Fleetwood: or, the new Man of Feeling … In three Volumes …

    London: Printed for Richard Phillips … 1805.

    First edition of Godwin’s third novel, like Caleb Williams a psychological and philosophical tale intended in some measure as a criticism of Rousseau. Casimir Fleetwood announces at the outset: ‘The proper topic of the narrative I am writing is the record of my errors. To write it, is the act of...


  13. [GRATTAN, Thomas Colley].

    The Heiress of Bruges; a Tale of the Year Sixteen Hundred … In four Volumes …

    London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley … 1830.

    First edition of Grattan’s first novel, a sprawling historical romance set in the Low Countries during the time of Spanish occupation, charting the fortunes of the eponymous heiress and her numerous suitors alongside the military upsets of the period. It was ‘one of the best historical romances of...


  14. [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...


  15. GREENE, Graham. 

    A burnt-out Case. 

    London, Heinemann, [1961]. 

    Uncorrected proof copy of the first edition in English.  This was evidently used as a review copy, with the upper cover annotated in pencil ‘700 words by Nov 28’.  The unknown reviewer has made several notes in pencil on the half-title: ‘Criticism – c[oul]d come from the soc[ial] realist...


  16. GUERINI, Professor Giovanni.

    Fireside Entertainments; or, A Series of Interesting Tales ...

    London: Chapman and Hall ... 1874.

    First edition in English of Guerini’s Trenta Novelle (1873), a collection of short stories with contemporary or historical Italian settings by Bulwer-Lytton’s Italian translator. In the original language these stories--’Rubens’ Studio’, ‘The Uncle from America’, ‘Shut up in Church’,...


  17. HAWTHORNE, Nathaniel. 

    Transformation: or, the romance of Monte Beni [Title on spine: The Marble Faun]. 

    Leipzig, Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1860 [c. 1878].

    First edition thus, extra-illustrated with ninety-nine albumen print photographs. 


  18. [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...


  19. HOLCROFT, Thomas.

    The Family Picture; or, domestic Dialogues on amiable and interesting Subjects: illustrated by Histories, Allegories,...

    London: Printed for Lockyer Davis … Printer to the Royal Society. 1783

    First edition of an early work by the radical playwright and novelist Thomas Holcroft. The Egerton family gather in the library every evening to tell stories for their mutual instruction and amusement. The novel takes the form of twenty dialogues, and each includes a number of shorter tales. Several...


  20. ISHERWOOD, Christopher.

    Berlin Stories.

    New York: New Directions, [1945].

    First American edition to combine the two Berlin novels, originally published by the Hogarth Press as Mr Norris Changes Trains and Goodbye to Berlin, in 1935 and 1939 respectively.