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. GODWIN, William.

    Caleb Williams ou les Choses comme elles sont … Traduction nouvelle par M. Amédée Pichot …

    Paris, Paulin, Éditeur … 1847 [-1846].

    First edition of this translation by Amédée Pichot, the Anglophile editor of the Revue britannique (volume I had appeared earlier in Bibliographie de la France (no. 5055, 7 November 1846). Shortly before, Pichot had published the first French translation of any work by Edgar Allen Poe...


  2. [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...


  3. [GRATTAN, Thomas Colley].

    Jacqueline of Holland. A historical Tale …

    London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley … 1831.

    First edition. Like Grattan’s first novel, The Heiress of Bruges (1830), this, his second, is a rambling romance solidly based on unfamiliar historical sources (Oxford DNB), the heroine being Jacqueline, Countess of Hainault (Jacoba van Beieren, 1401-1436), erstwhile sovereign of Holland. She...


  4. GRAVENHIL, Guy.

    Jack Skeffington. A sporting Novel ... in two Volumes ...

    London: Chapman and Hall, Limited. 1891.

    First edition. Squire Skeffington is a man of learning who loves ‘deep books, pictures, and architecture. [He] was fond of open-air exercise ... But his worst enemy would not have described him as a sportsman’. The Squire struggles in vain to instil a love of the classics in his son Jack in place...


  5. GROOME, Francis Hindes.

    Kriegspiel: the War-Game …

    Ward, Locke & Bowden, Limited. London, New York, and Melbourne. 1896.

    First edition of an unusual Romany novel by the author, gypsy scholar, and friend of Swinburne, Francis Hinde Groome (1851-1902). Groome’s love affair with the gypsy world began at Oxford and took him first to Göttingen, a major centre of gypsy studies, then on the road with groups of Hungarian, Romanian...


  6. 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’,...


  7. 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...



    a Tale, for the Grave and the Gay ...

    London: Printed for Francis Westley ... and sold by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown ... 1821.

    First edition. A Bildungsroman in which the heroine, Louisa Delaval, rejects the ‘treacherous’ world of fashion, and finds that happiness lies in religion. The silver fork setting provides a striking foil for the author’s moral message, exegetical understanding and perceptive thoughts about genre:...


  9. [HAWKINS, Sir Anthony Hope].

    Half a Hero. By Anthony Hope [pseudonym] ... in two Volumes ...

    London: A. D. Innes and Co. ... 1893.

    First edition of an early novel by the accomplished author of the famous romantic adventure story, The Prisoner of Zenda (1894). ‘“Brilliant” was a word often applied to Hope’s early novels’, writes Sutherland, ‘although they were also accused of frothy insubstantiality’. The present novel...


  10. HERBERTSON, Mallard.

    Led from Afar. A Story ...

    London: Remington and Co. Publishers ... 1888.

    First edition. The novel opens in Egypt, where the hero is travelling with a painter-friend. Sitting in front of his tent one evening on the plain of Thebes, Trevelyan has a vision in which he sees his childhood sweetheart now married to the sinister Mr. Darcy. ‘Led from afar’ by this vision, Trevelyan...


  11. [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.


  12. [HILL, ‘Sir’ John].

    Lucina sine Concubitu. A Letter humbly address’d to the Royal Society; in which is proved … that a...

    London: Printed; and sold by M. Cooper … 1750.

    Third edition, with a new satirical postscript. Altogether there were five London editions in 1750 (two designated ‘third’, this with pp. 50, the other pp. 35) and a Dublin printing of this popular spoof, written in revenge for the author’s rejection as a candidate for membership in the Royal Society....


  13. HODGSON, William Earl.

    Unrest, or the newer Republic ...

    London: W. H. Allen & Co. ... 1887.

    First edition, and a splendid response to W. H. Mallock’s celebrated New Republic by the prolific angling author W. Earl Hodgson. The mode of the novel, a sort of philosophical dialogue à clef, derives directly from The New Republic, although the setting differs, in that angling plays...


  14. HUGO, Victor.

    By Order of the King. The authorised English Translation of Victor Hugo’s L’Homme qui Rit. In three Volumes …...

    London: Bradbury, Evans, & Co. … 1870

    First complete edition in English of Hugo’s tragic social novel of human flotsam and jetsam, child-mutilating ‘comprachicos’, and aristocratic intrigue, set in late 17th century England. ‘Full of Hugolian archetypes, this grotesque romance seems to reflect the promise and the failure of revolutionary...


  15. 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.


  16. [JAMES, George Payne Rainsford].

    Delaware; or, the Ruined Family … in three Volumes …

    Edinburgh: Printed for Robert Cadell … and Whittaker & Co., London. 1833.

    First edition. The Earl of Ashborough has long held a grudge against his cousin, Sir Sidney Delaware, following a quarrel over a lady and concocts a ‘scheme for ruining the family’. The plan for revenge centres on the repayment to the Earl of an annuity on the Delaware family home, but is complicated...


  17. 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...


  18. 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.


  19. 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.


  20. [JOHNSON, Samuel].


    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...