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. JAYADEVA, and Friedrich MAJER (translator).

    Gita-Govinda, ein Indisches Singspiel ... aus der Ursprache ins Englische...

    Weimar, Landes-Industrie-Comptoir, 1802.

    First and only separate edition of this uncommon German translation of Gita Govinda, a ‘devoutly erotic poem of the twelfth-century Bengali poet Jayadeva’ (ODNB).


  2. 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...


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


  5. [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...


  6. [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...


  7. [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...


  8. [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.


  9. [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,...


  10. [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...


  11. [JUVENILIA.] 

    Racconti per gli adolescenti.  Con tavole miniate. 

    Trieste, ‘Sezione Letterario-Artistica del Lloyd Austriaco’, 1857. 

    First and only edition, extremely rare, of these cautionary tales for adolescents, featuring inter alia debates among children on the ethics of taxidermy, a brawl in Latin lessons, arrests for embezzlement, and the unjust incarceration of a schoolboy. 


  12. 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...


  13. 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.


  14. [KNOX, Charles Henry, Captain].

    Hardness: or the Uncle. In Three Volumes...

    London: Saunders and Otley … 1841.

    First editions, scarce. The author, son of William Knox, Bishop of Killaloe and Kilfenora (later of Derry) and chaplain to the Irish House of Commons, joined the army in 1826, was made a captain in 1836, and retired on half-pay in 1838. After leaving the regular army he served as a Lieutenant-Colonel...


  15. [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’...


  16. LEIGH, Samuel Egerton, Sir.

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

    Cheyne … [and] for Hookham & Carpentar … Vernor & Hood … London. 1797.

    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...


  17. 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...


  18. LEWIS, Wyndham.


    London, The Egoist Ltd., 1918.

    First English edition, published in an edition of 1000 (of which 87 distributed gratis). T. S. Eliot thought the book ‘remarkable’. Set in pre-war Paris, Tarr pits its eponymous English artist (‘a caricatural self-portrait of sorts’) against Kreisler, a self-destructive German Romantic...


  19. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    The Wild Body.

    London, Chatto & Windus, 1927.

    First trade edition, first issue binding; there was also a special edition of 85 signed copies. A collection, in a much reworked form, of some early sketches written in Brittany, some of which had been published in 1909.


  20. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    Snooty Baronet.

    London, Cassell & Co. Ltd., 1932.

    First edition, first issue binding, the first of three books Lewis published with Cassell, and the first of his novels not to find an American publisher.