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. AINSWORTH, William Harrison.

    The Combat of the Thirty. From a Breton Lay of the fourteenth Century. With an Introduction, comprising...

    London: Chapman and Hall … 1859

    First edition of the first English translations of these two texts, inscribed to ‘James Crossley from his old friend William Harrison Ainsworth’. The two men had been friends since 1817 when Crossley, a solicitor, was articled to Ainsworth’s father and later became a partner in the firm. He was...

    £550

  2. ALMEIDA, Theodoro de.

    Lisboa destruida poema, author o P. Theodoro de Almeida, da Congregaçaõ do Oratorio de Lisboa.

    Lisbon, Antonio Rodrigues Galhardo, 1803.

    First edition of this poem in six cantos, with extensive notes, on the disastrous 1755 Lisbon earthquake, by the Oratorian priest and philosopher Almeida (1722-1804). One of the deadliest in history, the earthquake almost totally destroyed the Portuguese capital and accentuated political tensions within...

    £400

  3. ANDREWS, Alexander.

    The History of British Journalism, from the Foundation of the Newspaper Press in England, to the Repeal of...

    London, R. Clay for Richard Bentley, 1859.

    First edition of a detailed study of British newspapers. The first comprehensive history of the subject, the text is derived from close study of the British Museum’s collections, from the sixteenth century to the mid-nineteenth.

    £150

  4. [AUGUSTINE, Saint, attributed author.]

    The Meditations of Saint Augustine, from the Latin Original. By the Rev. J. Martin, O.S.A. …

    Dublin: Printed for the Author, by H. Fitzpatrick … 1798

    First edition of this rare translation of the pseudo-Augustinian Meditationum Liber, an eleventh-century devotional text very popular in the Middle Ages.

    £1250

  5. BARDUZZI, Bernardino.

    A Letter in Praise of Verona [1489]. In the original Latin Text with an English Translation by Betty Radice.

    Verona, [Officina Bodoni,] 1974.

    First edition, No. 34 of 150 copies: an elegant facsimile reprint of one of Verona’s rarest incunables. Barduzzi’s eulogistic letter to Giovanni Nesi was first printed in 1489 by Paulus Fridenperger. The Latin text is followed here by an English translation and a biographical postscript by Giovanni...

    £375

  6. BEARCROFT, Philip.

    An historical Account of Thomas Sutton Esq; and of his Foundation in Charter-House …

    London: Printed by E. Owen, and sold by F. Gyles … W. Hinchliffe … J. and P. Knapton … J. Stagg … and S. Birt … 1737.

    First edition. Thomas Sutton (1532-1611) was an Elizabethan civil servant who made an enormous fortune from leases of land rich in coal in Durham. In 1611 he bought Howard House for £13,000 from the Earl of Suffolk; the building acquired its more familiar name, ‘Charterhouse’, after the order of...

    £250

  7. [BEER, Johann Christoph.]

    Kurtzer Entwurff dess Lebens der Könige in Engelland von der Zeit an als die Sachsen und Angeln sich...

    Nuremberg, Johann Hoffmann, 1676.

    Second, corrected and improved, edition (first 1671) of this attractive German survey of English kings and queens. After describing the rulers in the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England (Wessex, Sussex, Essex, Kent, East Anglia, Northumbria, and Mercia), Beer discusses the kings from Egbert to Harold...

    £400

  8. BENTHAM, Jeremy.

    Plan of Parliamentary Reform, in the Form of a Catechism, with Reasons for each Article. With an Introduction,...

    London: Printed in the Year 1817. Re-printed and Re-published, with Notes and Alterations, by Permission of the Author, by T. J. Wooler … 1818.

    First edition thus of an inexpensive reprint of Bentham’s Plan of Parliamentary Reform (1817), the style adapted by Thomas Wooler, with Bentham’s permission, to ‘render it more easy of comprehension to the popular reader’. In this form it first appeared in instalments in Wooler’s radical...

    £225

  9. BLOUNT, Sir Thomas Pope.

    Essays on several Subjects …

    London, Printed for Richard Bently … 1692.

    Second edition of seven essays of ‘considerable merit [that] display the easy scepticism and solid good sense and learning of the author to good advantage’ (Pforzheimer). They deal with self-interest; the mischief of learning; education; respect for antiquity; the virtues of modern men; passion;...

    £500

  10. BOLTON, Robert.

    Letters and Tracts on the Choice of Company and other Subjects. The second Edition.

    London: Printed for J. Whiston and B. White … and R. and J. Dodsley … 1762.

    Second edition; a reissue of the sheets of the first edition with a cancel title-page and advertisement replacing the original title leaf A1. As well as the title tract, the volume includes essays ‘On Intemperance in Eating’, ‘On Intemperance in Drinking’, ‘On Pleasure’ and ‘On Public Worship’,...

    £325

  11. [BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.]

    La Liturgie. C’est a dire, le formulaire des Prieres publiques, de l’Administrations des Sacreman;...

    A Londres, pour Jean Dunmore & Octavien Pulleyn le Jeune … 1667.

    First edition of this translation, printed for the use of ‘toutes les Eglisses Paroissiales & dans les Chapelles de Isles de Jersey, Guernsey, & autres Isles adjacentes’, as well as for the French congregation at the Savoy in London.

    £750

  12. [Brewer, George].

    The Siamese tales: being a collection of stories told to the son of the Mandarin Sam-Sib, for the purpose of...

    London, Vernor & Hood and Champante & Whitrow, 1796.

    First edition of an anonymously published collection of ‘Siamese tales’, written as fables to increase their appeal to children. In the Introduction, the author states that the purpose of these supposedly translated tales is to ‘promote the love of virtue through the medium of fiction’ (p. 1)....

    £950

  13. BRIEF ACCOUNT (A)

    of the Earthquake, the solemn Event which occurred near Axmouth, Devonshire, on the 25th December, 1839 …

    London: James Nisbett and Co. … 1840.

    First edition, very rare. The landslip at Bindon near Axmouth on the Jurassic Coast of Devon, which took place over the Christmas of 1839, was perhaps the most dramatic geological event in nineteenth-century England. Months of heavy rain weakened the clay foundations of the coastal landscape, sending...

    £750

  14. BURNEY, Charles.

    An Account of the musical Performances in Westminster-Abbey, and the Pantheon, May 26th, 27th, 29th; and June...

    London, Printed for the Benefit of the musical Fund; and sold by T. Payne and Son ... 1785.

    First edition. The Handel Commemoration Concerts of 1784, conceived the previous year by Viscount Fitzwilliam, Sir Watkins Williams Wynn and Joah Bates to celebrate the centenary of the birth of George Frederick Handel, were performances on a scale then unprecedented in England. On the morning of Wednesday...

    £1250

  15. [BUTLER, John].

    Some Account of the Character of the late Right Honourable Henry Bilson Legge.

    London: Printed for J. Almon … 1764.

    First edition. Henry Bilson Legge (1708-1764), three times chancellor of the exchequer between 1754 and 1761, attracted both respect and censure. To Pitt, he was ‘the child, and deservedly the favourite child, of the Whigs’. Horace Walpole, on the other hand, thought him a man ‘of a creeping, underhand...

    £200

  16. CADOGAN, William Bromley.

    The Felicity of God’s Children, considered in a Sermon, preached upon the Death of a Lady, in the parish...

    Reading: Printed and Sold by Smart and Cowslade; and sold by J. Rusher, Reading; Messrs. Robinsons, V. Griffiths ... & J. Matthews ... London;...

    First edition, a funeral sermon by the popular preacher William Bromley Cadogan, a friend of John Newton, for the local widow Maria Littlehales, printed at the request of her children. A younger son of the third Earl of Cadogan, the well-connected churchman was vicar of St. Giles, Reading, and rector...

    £75

  17. CAMPBELL, Thomas.

    Autograph letter, signed, to the novelist and socialite Lady Morgan, explaining why he cannot join her party.

    ‘Wednesday Morning’, no date, but late 1840.

    ‘I have been dying also several times during the last six months – I hope however to survive a few weeks when I shall be nearer to you when, in my new house in Victoria Square, I shall hope to see you frequently.’ Campbell suffered increasing ill health towards the end of his life, but continued...

    £175

  18. CARDONNEL, Adam de.

    Picturesque Antiquities of Scotland [I–II] …

    London: Printed for the Author, and sold by Edwards … also by Edwards’s, in Halifax. 1788.

    First edition, the very rare issue with the plates in sepia, printed directly onto thick wove paper.

    £975

  19. CAREL DE SAINTE GARDE, Jacques.

    Les sarrazins chassez de France. Poëme heroïque ...

    Paris, chez Claude Barbin, 1667.

    Rare first edition of this poetic account of the expulsion of the Saracens from France by Childebrand I (c. 678 – 751), written by Jacques Carel de Sainte Garde (1620 – 1684), almoner and counsellor to Louis XIV. Prefaced by a short treatise on versification in heroic poetry, the poem runs...

    £350

  20. [CARTOUCHE.]

    The Life and Actions of Lewis Dominique Cartouche: who was broke alive upon the Wheel at Paris, Nov. 28. 1721. N.S....

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1722.

    First edition in English, published in the same year as the French original. Louis Dominique Bourguignon, alias ‘Cartouche’ (1693-1721), began his life of crime stealing fruit from women at the gates of his Jesuit school and books from his wealthy classmates. To avoid punishment for theft he fled...

    £1750