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. 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

  2. ESSAY UPON MODERN GALLANTRY (AN).

    Address’d to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a seasonable Admonition...

    London: Printed for A. More … 1726.

    Second edition, unrecorded, published in the same year as the first – apparently from the same setting of type with the title-page altered to add the edition statement.

    £1000

  3. HALL, Major Herbert Byng.

    The Adventures of a Bric-a-Brac Hunter …

    London: Tinsley Brothers … 1868.

    First edition of a charming travel guide to Europe for the dilletante porcelain collector; some of the sketches that make up the book first appeared in the Belgravia magazine.

    £275

  4. POCKLINGTON, John.

    Altare Christianum: or, the dead Vicar’s Plea. Wherein the Vicar of Gr. being dead, yet speaketh, and pleadeth...

    London, Printed by Richard Badger. 1637.

    First edition, from the library of Robert Southey, with an ownership inscription an eleven-line note in his distinctive diminutive hand.

    £3750

  5. HOMERIC HYMN (THE)

    to Aphrodite. A New Translation by F. L. Lucas, fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. With ten Engravings by...

    Printed in Great Britain at the Golden Cockerel Press, 1948.

    First edition, No. 308 of 750 copies. Cockalorum 177.

    £225

  6. THORNBURY, George Walter.

    Art and Nature at Home and Abroad …

    London: Hurst and Blackett, Publishers, Successors to Henry Colburn … 1856.

    First edition: an early collection of essays by Thornbury (1828-1876), a prolific (and famously cacographic) writer who is closely associated with Dickens for his work on Household Words and All the Year Round (‘one of Charles Dickens’s most valuable contributors’; Dickens, Letters,...

    £450

  7. GARDINER, John Smallman.

    The Art and the Pleasures of Hare-Hunting. In six Letters to a Person of Quality …

    London: Printed by R. Griffith … 1750.

    First edition, scarce, an eloquent and amusing account of hare-hunting, the first monograph on the subject in English, comprising letters on the superiority of hare-hunting to fox-hunting (less dangerous, less laborious), on the best types of dogs, of trailing and starting hares, etc. Gardiner’s letter...

    £1250

  8. [HAWKE, William].

    An authentic and genuine Narrative of the Life and surprizing Exploits, of William Hawke, the famous Highwayman,...

    London: Printed for the Author; and sold by R. Richards, at his Lottery-Office … 1774.

    First edition of a shilling life of the ‘monarch’ of highwaymen, William Hawke. He and his henchman were ‘the most daring and desperate gang … that ever infested the English roads’, but ‘though Hawke had many vices, yet he was not destitute of every virtue’, and was known for his generosity...

    £950

  9. 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

  10. MORRIS, William, E.

    Belfort BAX, and Victor DAVE. The Socialist Platform. No. 4. A short Account of the Commune of Paris.

    London, socialist League Office, 1886.

    First and only edition of Morris’s, Bax’s, and Dave’s account of the Commune of Paris of 1871, presented as ‘the starting point of the irresistible Unity of Socialism in Europe and America’.

    £650

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

    The Best of Myles.

    New York: Walker & Company, 1968.

    First US edition, preceded by the London, MacGibbon & Kee edition of the same year.

    £150

  12. FREEMAN, Arthur.

    Bibliotheca Fictiva: a Collection of Books and Manuscripts Relating to Literary Forgery 400 BC – AD 2000.

    London, Bernard Quaritch Ltd, 2014.

    An inventory of books and manuscripts relating to literary forgery. Spanning some twenty-four centuries, the book seeks also to define and describe the controversial genre it represents. Individual entries offer specific commentary on the forgers and their work, their exposers and their dupes. A broad...

    £60

  13. COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor.

    Biographia Literaria; or biographical Sketches of my literary Life and Opinions … Vol I[-II].

    London: Rest Fenner … 1817.

    First edition. Coleridge’s estimates of contemporary German poets and philosophers are justly celebrated, and the long autobiographical passages and critical analyses of Wordsworth and of Lyrical Ballads are of primary interest. ‘Though maddeningly unsystematic in structure, the book is a touchstone...

    £450

  14. EYRE, Henry.

    A Brief Account of the Holt Waters, containing one Hundred and Twelve eminent Cures, perform’d by the Use of the...

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1731.

    First edition. The waters from Bath, Bristol and Holt, in Wiltshire, were the most popular English mineral waters of the eighteenth century, in no small part due to the activity of Henry Eyre, ‘Sworn Purveyor to Her Majesty [Queen Caroline, wife of George II] for all Mineral Waters’. Eyre ran a distribution...

    £750

  15. MARTINEAU, Harriet.

    British Rule in India; a historical Sketch …

    London: Smith, Elder and Co … 1857.

    First edition. Martineau wrote regularly for the Daily News from 1851-66, and produced nearly 1600 leaders in which she addessed international issues such as the American Civil War, and Britain’s position in the West Indies, Ireland and India. Her articles on India contributed to this work,...

    £150

  16. PIOZZI, Hester Lynch.

    British Synonymy; or, an Attempt at regulating the Choice of Words in familiar Conversation. Inscribed, with...

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

    First edition of a fascinating collection of short essays on synonyms, intended as a help to her husband and his foreign friends. Mrs. Piozzi began work on her Synonymy in early 1792, and by August was hard at the grindstone: ‘ten pages o’ Day copying, besides a little Composition now and...

    £950

  17. LETTERS ON THE FRENCH NATION

    : by a Sicilian Gentleman resident in Paris, to his Friend in his own Country. Containing an useful...

    London: Printed for T. Lownds ... 1749.

    First edition of this translation, very rare, of a work first printed in French in Paris in 1700 (see below) and, in a different translation, in English in 1704 as An agreeable Criticism of the City of Paris.

    £1250

  18. [PINNOCK, William].

    A catechism of the history of Scotland; including every important event relating to that country. From its...

    London, Pinnock and Maunder, 1820.

    Early edition of this oft-reprinted but uncommon guide to Scottish history, one of many catechisms on all types of subject published by the writer and publisher William Pinnock (1782-1843). The history of Scotland appears to have concluded with the ’45 rebellion; the final question and answer pair...

    £95

  19. PICKARD, Edward.

    The Character and Reward of the good and faithful Servant. A Sermon preached at Crouched Friars, London, April...

    London: Printed by Richard Hett, for J. Noon … J. Buckland … and C. Henderson … 1762.

    First edition of a sermon that provides an extended biographical notice (pp. 25-34) of the Presbyterian theologian George Benson (1699-1762). Benson embarked on an industrious series of interpretative Biblical paraphrases after the manner of Locke in the 1730s. His most famous work, published after he...

    £125

  20. [COLETTE, Sidonie-Gabrielle - WILLY [i.e. Henri Gauthier-Villars]]. KELLER, Fernand, and André LAUTIER.

    Colette (Colette Willy),...

    Paris, Éditions de La Nouvelle Revue Critique, 1923.

    First edition of this critical work on Colette, with Willy’s manuscript annotations throughout. The copy was subsequently in the possession of Willy’s friend Pierre Varenne, who has added a pencilled note to the blank endleaf: ‘Annotations manuscrites de Willy. P.V.’, and a ms. postcard to Varenne...

    £900