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. [PLUMPTRE, Annabella].

    The Western Mail: being a Selection of Letters made from the Bag taken from the Western Mail, when it was...

    London: Printed by Davis, Wilks, and Taylor … for J. Mawman, Successor to Mr Dilly … 1801.

    First edition. Like her better-known older sister Anne, Annabella Plumptre (‘Bell’) was a translator and novelist. Their father was Robert Plumptre, prebendary of Norwich and president of Queen’s College, Cambridge. They began their writing careers as part of the Enfield circle where participation...

    £650

  2. PORTER, Anna Maria.

    The Village of Mariendorpt. A Tale … in four Volumes …

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown … 1821

    First edition of a rather melodramatic novel set in Bavaria towards the end of the Thirty Years War. It proved just what Longman was looking for, and a sequel, Roche-Blanche, followed in 1822.

    £1200

  3. PORTER, Jane.

    Duke Christian of Luneburg; or, Tradition from the Hartz … in three Volumes …

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green … 1824.

    First edition. One of the earliest exponents of the historical novel, Porter enjoyed enormous popularity during her lifetime. Duke Christian of Luneburg was her sixth book, which she modestly described as ‘a little traditionary [sic] sketch of an illustrious hero’. Set in sixteenth-century...

    £650

  4. PORTER, Jane and Anna Maria.

    Coming out; and the Field of Forty Footsteps … In three Volumes …

    London: Printed for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green … 1828.

    First edition; the first two volumes comprise ‘Coming Out; a Tale of the nineteenth century’ by Anna Maria Porter, the final volume is her sister’s ‘Field of Forty Footsteps; a Tale of the seventeenth century’. ‘Either would have made a three-decker all by itself’ (Wolff).

    £650

  5. PYNCHON, Thomas.

    Gravity’s Rainbow.

    New York: The Viking Press, [1973].

    First edition. ‘Gravity’s Rainbow is literally indescribable, a tortured cadenza of lurid imaginings and total recall that goes on longer than you can quite believe’, wrote critic Michael Wood on first publication of this, Pynchon’s magnum opus:

    £900

  6. RAMUS, Petrus. (Commentator) - VIRGILIUS MARO, Publius.

    Georgica, P. Rami professoris regii praelectionibus illustrata, ad Carolum...

    Paris, 1564.

    Second editions of Ramus' extensive commentaries on Virgil's two poems on country life, which he wrote in order to react against the dry doctrines of several French schools who based their teaching of nature on Aristotle's physics. He wanted to keep in contact with the concrete realities of nature and...

    £2000

  7. RICCOBONI, Marie-Jeanne.

    Histoire de Miss Jenny, ecrite & envoyée par elle à Milady, Comtesse de Roscomond, Ambassadrice d’Angleterre...

    A Paris, Chez Brocas & Humblot, Libraires … 1764.

    First edition of a scarce epistolary novel of English manners, by the anglophile French writer Madame Riccoboni, a friend and correspondent of Garrick, Hume and Adam Smith, and a publicist for the cause of English literature in France.

    £950

  8. ROBINSON, Mary, ‘Perdita’.

    The Widow, or a Picture of modern Times. A Novel, in a Series of Letters ….

    London: Printed for Hookham and Carpenter ... 1794.

    First edition of Robinson’s second novel. The widow of the title is presented with many bad options for re-marriage (such as Lord Woodley, who, robbed of feudal power by modern laws, asserts ‘since I cannot tyrannize over my vassals, I will over the women’), eventually chooses one, and dies...

    £5000

  9. ROTH, Henry.

    Call it Sleep.

    London: Michael Joseph, 1963.

    First English edition, first published in New York by Robert O. Ballou in 1934.

    £250

  10. RUTHERFORD, Mark (i.e. William Hale WHITE).

    The Revolution in Tanner’s Lane ...

    London: Trübner & Co. ... 1887.

    First edition of White’s finest novel, which takes the form of an exploration of the mingled origins of nineteenth-century political radicalism and religious nonconformity. The greater part of the novel relates the fortunes of Zachariah Coleman, a militant radical, Calvinist, and printer, in the London...

    £450

  11. SALINGER, J.D.

    Povesti. Nad propast’iu vo rzhi [Catcher in the Rye]… Rasskazyi.

    Moscow, Molodaya Gvardiya, 1965.

    First printing in Russia and first Russian translation of Catcher in the Rye (1951), together with other works by Salinger which also appear here for the first time. The translation of Salinger’s classic novel was approved by the censor, as they considered Holden Caulfield’s dissolute coming-of-age...

    £950

  12. [SMOLLETT, Tobias].

    The Adventures of Roderick Random … in two Volumes … The second Edition.

    London: Printed for J. Osborn … 1748.

    Second edition, with ‘major imaginative changes’, and frontispieces which appear here for the first time. Even though there were only a few weeks between the first and second editions, Smollett found time to make a number of significant corrections in the text, on average about one substantive change...

    £500

  13. STRAPAROLA, Giovanfrancesco.

    Le piacevoli notti di messer Giovanfrancesco Straparola da Caravaggio.

    Venice, Domenico Giglio, 1558.

    An early edition of both volumes of Straparola’s Facetious nights, first published in 1550–53.

    £2750

  14. [SURTEES, Robert Smith,] and John LEECH (illustrator).

    Handley Cross series.

    London, Bradbury, Agnew, & Co., 1899-1900.

    Limited ‘Master of Foxhounds’ edition, finely printed at the Whitefriars Press. Having published the first editions of several of Surtees’s sporting novels, Bradbury, Agnew, & Co. gathered and reprinted the six most successful as the ‘Handley Cross series’ as luxury sets. Publisher’s...

    £1200

  15. SWIFT, Jonathan.

    The Works of J. S, D. D, D. S. P. D. in four Volumes … In this Edition are great Alterations and Additions;...

    Dublin: Printed by and for George Faulkner, Printer and Bookseller … 1735.

    First 12mo. edition of the first collected Works of Swift, preceded by octavo edition earlier in the year. Here the chronological arrangement in volumes I and II has been altered and one piece, ‘Prometheus’ (a later insertion), moved from volume IV to its correct place in volume II.

    £1250

  16. TEMPLE, Sir William.

    An Introduction to the History of England …

    London, Printed for Richard Simpson … and Ralph Simpson … 1695

    First edition. Newly arrived in England from Trinity College, Dublin, Swift in 1689 entered upon a ten-year period as secretary to Sir William Temple at Moor Park near Farnham in Surrey. ‘Partly thanks to Swift’s support several of Temple’s important works were published in the 1690s, notably the...

    £450

  17. THOMAS, Dylan, and Sir Peter Blake, illustrator.

    Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices.

    London: Apple Litho (Bristol) Ltd. for Enitharmon Editions and Queen Anne Press, 2013.

    De Luxe edition, number 61 of 100 copies with a signed print by Blake. This finely-produced edition was published to mark the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth and celebrates the culmination of over twenty-five years of work by Peter Blake, one of the founding fathers of British Pop Art. The...

    £975

  18. [THOMPSON, Thomas].

    The genuine tryal of Dr. Nosmoth, a physician in Pekin; for the murder of the Mandarine Tonwin…

    London, Mary Cooper, 1746.

    First edition, a satire, putting Dr. Nosmoth, aka Thomas Thompson, on trial for causing the death of ‘Mandarine Tonwin’, aka Thomas Winnington, the Paymaster of the Forces. The somewhat shady circumstances surrounding the death soon attracted the attentions of Society gossip, including being discussed...

    £350

  19. WALFORD, L[ucy] B[ethia].

    The Mischief of Monica … in three Volumes …

    London, Longmans, Green, & Co. … 1891.

    First edition. Born in Edinburgh in 1845, Walford began writing secretly soon after her marriage, contributing stories to Blackwood’s and other periodicals. Her family voiced serious disapproval upon the publication of her first novel, Mr Smith: A Part of his Life, in 1874; it was, however,...

    £425

  20. [WARREN, Samuel.]

    Ten Thousand a-Year.

    Edinburgh & London, Ballantyne & Hughes for William Blackwood & Sons, 1841.

    First English (and first authorised) edition of an influential legal novel, a satire in which a young upstart, Tittlebat Titmouse, discovers he is worth the massive endowment of the story’s title, and must defend himself against a host of avaricious villains of the legal profession bearing equally...

    £750