English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees or Ted Hofmann

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. 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

  2. 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....

    £1350

  3. [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.

    £350

  4. GASS, William H.

    Omensetter’s Luck – A Novel.

    New York: The New American Library, 1966.

    First edition. An excellent copy of the first novel by the most philosophically literate author of fiction in the post-war era.

    £300

  5. 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...

    £450

  6. [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...

    £450

  7. 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’,...

    £150

  8. HAGGARD, H. Rider.

    Colonel Quaritch, V.C. A Tale of Country Life … In three Volumes …

    London: Longmans, Green and Co. 1888.

    First edition in book form, the last of Rider Haggard’s novels to be issued as a three-decker, following its appearance in the penny numbers of England. This is a domestic and at times violent tale of a lost family treasure and the cryptic message that leads to its timely recovery just as foreclosure...

    £1000

  9. [HILL, ‘Sir’ John].

    The Adventures of Mr. George Edwards, a Creole.

    London: Printed for T. Osborne ... 1751.

    First edition of a novel written in the year that the self-styled ‘Sir’ John Hill, apothecary and quack, began writing the ‘Inspector’ essays that turned into the contrived and then real ‘paper war’ with Fielding and Smart.

    £1500

  10. 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.

    £150

  11. JACOMB, Charles Ernest.

    And a new earth. A romance.

    London, George Routledge & Sons, 1926.

    First edition. A post-apocalyptic fantasy novel relating the history of a utopian island that survived a ‘second flood’ in 1958, which destroyed the world’s civilization and reduced the human population to just 10,000. The island was re-discovered by the New World Fleet in 2832, 872 years after...

    £75

  12. JEFFERIES, Richard.

    Hodge and his Masters …

    London, Smith, Elder, & Co. … 1880.

    First edition, an influential volume of sketches of rural life, collected from Jefferies’ articles in the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard. Jefferies (1848-1887) had published his first novel The Scarlet Shawl in 1874, after some years as a rural newspaperman; with Hodge and his Masters...

    £450

  13. JENKINS, Edward.

    The Devil’s Chain … Twentieth Thousand. With twelve Illustrations by Barnard and Thomson.

    William Mullan & Son … London … Belfast, 1877.

    A reissue of the illustrated edition from a different publishing house.

    £100

  14. JENKINS, Edward.

    The Devil’s Chain … Twenty-sixth Thousand. With twelve Illustrations by Barnard and Thomson.

    William Mullan & Son … London … Belfast, 1877.

    25th Thousand, according to the binding, but ‘Twenty-sixth Thousand’ on the title-page.

    £100

  15. [JOHNSON, Samuel].

    Rasselas.

    London: J. Bretell for Hector McLean, 1819.

    Third Smirke edition, ordinary-paper issue. ‘All travel has its advantages,’ the lexicographer, essayist and critic Samuel Johnson (1709-84) wrote in his Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. ‘If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own, and if fortune...

    £300

  16. [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 called...

    £4500

  17. [JOHNSON, Samuel].

    The Prince of Abissinia. A Tale. In two Volumes …

    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 called...

    £1600

  18. [JOHNSTONE, Charles].

    The Reverie: or, a Flight to the Paradise of Fools … Published by the Editor of the Adventures of a Guinea....

    London, Printed for T. Becket, and P. A. Da [sic] Hondt … 1763.

    Loeber & Loeber J45; Raven 724.

    £450

  19. [JOYCE.] ROTH, Samuel [Edits.].

    Two Worlds – A Literary Quarterly Devoted to the Increase of the Gaiety of Nations.

    New York: Sign of the Mockigrisball, 1925.

    First edition. Unnumbered, one of 500, of which 450 numbered copies were designated for subscribers. Between September 1925 and September 1926 Two Worlds published installments of Joyce’s ‘Work in Progress’ (Finnegan’s Wake), reprinted from European publications (in this case from Criterion,...

    £150

  20. [JUVENILE.] DAY, Thomas.

    The History of Sandford and Merton, abridged from the Original. Embellished with elegant Plates … Third...

    London:

    Third edition of Richard Johnson’s abridgement of Day’s most famous and most enduring children’s book (1783, with sequels in 1786 and 1789), first published in this form in 1790. ESTC shows three copies of the first edition; five of the second; and BL and UCLA only of this third; Roscoe adds a...

    £200