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. [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...


  2. [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.


  3. [JOHNSTONE, Charles.]

    Chrysal, or the Adventures of a Guinea, wherein are exhibited Views of several striking Scenes, with curious...

    London, T. Becket, 1760.

    First edition. Chrysal’s enormous popularity derived from its thinly-veiled chronicle of contemporary scandals in political high life: ‘An excoriating satire that won Johnstone respect as a wit but few friends, the novel is set roughly during the period of the Seven Years’ War (1757-63)...


  4. [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,...


  5. [JUVENILE.] DAY, Thomas.

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


    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...


  6. KIPLING, Rudyard.

    Under the Deodars …

    Published by Messrs. A. H. Wheeler & Co., Allahabad, [1888].

    First edition, ‘reprinted in chief from the Week’s News’. Under the Deodars, No. 4 in Wheeler’s Indian Railway Library, contains six stories from Kipling’s time as a journalist, dealing with ‘things that are not pretty and uglinesses that hurt’. Adultery is a common theme, though...


  7. KIPLING, Rudyard.

    The Horse Marines.

    Garden City New York, Doubleday, Page & Company, Inc., 1910.

    This story is based on a fictitious parliamentary report that army recruits were being trained to ride horses using rocking horses. It is the sixth instalment of the Pyecroft series.


  8. [LAWRENCE, George Alfred].

    Barren Honour. A Tale. By the Author of ‘Guy Livingstone.’ In two Volumes ...

    London: Parker, Son, and Bourn ... 1862.

    First edition. Lawrence has been grouped with Kingsley and Hughes in the ‘muscular’ school of Victorian fiction with its sturdy heroes and Christian Socialism. Barren Honour is ‘a study of magnificently chivalrous self-destruction’ on the part of its hero Sir Alan Wyverne, ‘a thoroughbred’...


  9. LEIGH, Sir Samuel Egerton.

    Munster Abbey, a Romance; interspersed with Reflections on Virtue and Morality … in three Volumes...


    First edition. Despite its ‘gothic’ title this is a novel of contemporary high life in England and on the Grand Tour, avoiding ‘extravagant descriptions of supernatural scenes and events’. Munster Abbey in Devon is the seat of the hero, Mr. Belford, a bachelor ‘happily possessed of a fortune,...


  10. LE SAGE, Alain René.

    The History of Vanillo Gonzales, surnamed the merry Batchelor. In two Volumes. From the French …

    London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson … 1797

    First complete translation of Le Sage’s Histoire d’Estevanille Gonzalez, surnommé le garcon de bonne humeur (1734), itself a loose French adaptation of Vida y hechos de Estebanillo Gonzalez (1646), preserving only a few episodes of the Spanish original. Authorship of Vida y hechos...


  11. [LLANOS GUTIERREZ, Valentín Maria.]

    Sandoval; or, The freemason. A Spanish tale. By the author of “Don Esteban” . . . Second...

    London, Henry Colburn, 1826.

    First published earlier the same year. An American edition also appeared in 1826, and a German translation in 1827.



    Louis Xavier Auguet de Saint-Sylvain, Baron de [Jean Toussaint MERLE, editor]. The career of Don Carlos, since the...

    London, Richard Bentley, 1835.

    First edition in English. First published in French earlier the same year and quickly translated into German and Spanish as well as English. Saint-Sylvain was a French legitimist who became a significant personal aide to Don Carlos. ‘Admitted to the confidence of the legitimate heir of the Spanish...


  13. 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.


  14. MACDIARMID, Hugh [i.e. Christopher Grieve], and Valda TREVLYN GRIEVE.

    A collection of 24 items, many signed or inscribed,...


    The poet and BBC broadcaster D. G. Bridson had been an avid reader of MacDiarmid since the ’30s, and organized a ‘comprehensive selection’ of his work for broadcast on 5 Feb 1951, followed by productions of In Memoriam James Joyce (31 May 1956) and Impavidi progrediamur (19 December...


  15. MADDEN, Dodgson Hamilton.

    The Diary of Master William Silence: A Study of Shakespeare & of Elizabethan Sport.

    London, New York, & Bombay, Longmans, Green, & Co., 1897.

    First edition of Madden’s reimagination of Elizabethan sport, derived from passages from Shakespeare. Though a legal writer and prominent jurist, being appointed attorney-general of Ireland in 1889, the best known publication of Dodgson Hamilton Madden (1840–1928) remains the Diary of Master...


  16. MARINI, Giovanni Ambrogio.

    The Desperadoes; an heroick History. Translated from the Italian of the celebrated Marini (the Original...

    London: Printed by W. R. and sold by T. Asltey … J. Isted … and T. Worrall … 1733.

    First and only edition in English of Le gare de’ disperati (1644), the second of three romances by Marini (1596-1668). Inevitably, ‘It was necessary to omit many Things that were contrary to our Morals; to Decency, and to the Purity of the English Tongue …’. But the general scheme of events...


  17. MARIVAUX, Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de.

    Le Paysan parvenu: or, the fortunate Peasant. Being Memoirs of the Life of Mr. ––––....

    London: Printed for John Brindley … Charles Corbett … and Richard Wellington … 1735

    First edition in English, originally published in French in the Hague in 1734-5. This is the second of the two important novels by Marivaux, which broke new ground in the art of writing fiction. ‘Where La Vie de Marianne belongs to the moralizing and sentimental romance tradition, Le Paysan...


  18. MARSHALL, W.

    Monsell Digby. A Novel, in three Volumes ...

    London: Remington and Co. ... 1880.

    First edition. Set in industrial and rural Lancashire against the background of the economic unrest of 1815, Monsell Digby follows the fortunes of a number of young men caught up in a murderous Luddite riot and its aftermath. Not in NUC and Supplement; UCLA and Texas only on OCLC. Wolff 4582.


  19. MEDINA POMAR, Duke de.

    Fashion and Passion or, Life in Mayfair … by the Duke de Pomar… Author of “The Honeymoon” and “Through...

    London: Chapman & Hall … 1877.

    Second edition (first published in 1876) of this wildly-popular novel of London society, published after the first edition sold out in two months. It follows the fortunes of the beautiful Señorita Consuelo and her lover Alfredo, who meet on a small-trader passage from Bilbao to London. Consuelo’s...


  20. MEREDITH, George.

    One of our Conquerors ... In three Volumes ...

    London: Chapman and Hall ... 1891.

    First edition of a ‘striking study of marital misery’ (Sutherland). Sadleir 1700.