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. NICOLAI, [Christoph] Friedrich. 

    The Life and Opinions of Sebaldus Nothanker.  Translated from the German … by Thomas Dutton,...

    London: Printed by C. Lowndes, and sold by H.D. Symonds, 1798. 

    First edition in English, very scarce, of Nicolai’s Das Leben und die Meinungen des Herrn Magister Sebaldus Nothanker (1773–6), ‘probably the literary bestseller of the German Enlightenment’ (Selwyn), translated into many languages and much re-printed.  It is sometimes considered...


  2. [O’BRIEN.] NA GOPALEEN, Myles. [Pseud.] Brian O’Nolan.

    The Hard Life … An Exegesis of Squalor.

    London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1961.

    First edition. A short comic novel described by O’Brien’s biographer Anthony Cronin as ‘a small masterpiece’, The Hard Life recounts the turn-of-the-century doings of a nameless narrator and the characters around him, with a remote, disdainful calmness and clarity. Set in the same turn-of-the-century...


  3. OHNET, Georges.

    The Battles of Life. The Ironmaster. From the French of Georges Ohnet … by Lady G[eorgiana] O[sborne]. Authorized...

    London: Wyman & Sons … 1884.

    First edition in English. Le maître de forges (1882), one of a series of novels published by Ohnet under the title ‘Les batailles de la vie’, was a bestseller of French nineteenth-century sentimental fiction, and no less successful in England. Another English translation, by Ernest Vizetelly,...


  4. [PEACOCK, Thomas Love].

    Gryll Grange. By the Author of ‘Headlong Hall’ …

    London: Parker, Son, and Bourn … 1861

    First edition in book form, following serialisation in Fraser’s, of Peacock’s final novel, perhaps his most witty and urbane. At a convivial house party at Gryll Grange the eccentric guests debate a whole range of mid-Victorian issues from the pretensions of science and the zeal of the reformers...


  5. 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.


  6. 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...


  7. 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).


  8. 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:


  9. RADCLIFFE, Ann.

    The Mysteries of Udolpho, a Romance; interspersed with some Pieces of Poetry ... in four Volumes ...

    London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson ... 1794.

    First edition of a cornerstone of gothic fiction, ‘a book so rich in Gothic ideas and techniques that its far-reaching influence can scarcely be overstated … Its wild and lush landscapes became ubiquitous too, in the imagination of contemporaries, and it is no surprise to find Keats, in 1818, writing...


  10. REXROTH, Kenneth.

    An Autobiographical Novel …

    Garden City, NY, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966.

    First edition, inscribed ‘In friendship / for Geoffrey Bridson / Kenneth Rexroth SF June 66’.


  11. 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.


  12. ROTH, Henry.

    Call it Sleep.

    London: Michael Joseph, 1963.

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


  13. SMITH, Albert.

    Marguerite de Bourgogne. A Tradition of ancient Paris …

    London: Richard Bentley … 1845.

    First separate edition, printed for private circulation and very rare, comprising a portion (though complete in itself) of Smith’s three-decker The Adventures [or Fortunes] of the Scattergood Family (1845), with a new half-title and title-page.


  14. [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...


  15. SMOLLETT, Tobias.

    The Expedition of Humphry Clinker … The second Edition …

    London, Printed for W. Johnston … and B. Collins … 1771.

    Second edition of Smollett’s acknowledged masterpiece, printed in the same year as the first. The story describes, in epistolary form, the journey of the Matthew Bramble, a hypochondriac Scot, and his family round Britain in search of a cure for his various ailments. The titular Humphry Clinker...


  16. 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.


  17. [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...


  18. 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.


  19. 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...


  20. THACKERAY, William Makepeace. 

    The Virginians, a tale of the last century. 

    London, Bradbury & Evans, November 1857 [– October 1859].

    First edition in the original monthly parts of Thackeray’s American sequel to Henry Esmond