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. 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. JONES, Sir John Thomas.

    Account of the war in Spain and Portugal, and in the south of France, from 1808, to 1814, inclusive.

    London, T. Egerton, 1818.

    First edition. In July 1808 John Jones (1783–1843) was selected to serve as one of the two assistant commissioners under General Leith, appointed military and semi-diplomatic agent to the juntas of northern Spain, returning to England after the battle of Corunna in January 1809. In 1810 he was again...

    £250

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    America, I Presume.

    New York, Howell, Soskins & Co., [1940].

    First edition, Lewis’s first impressions of America after his abrupt departure thence in September 1939. He was to remain in North America for the duration of World War WII.

    £75

  7. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    An Anthology of his Prose. Edited with an introduction by E.W.F. Tomlin.

    London, Methuen & Co Ltd., [1969].

    First edition. ‘The Sea-Mists of Winter’, Lewis’s famous article on the approach of blindness, appears in this Anthology for the first time in book form – the original article from The Listener is also laid in. Bridson has noted in pencil where the book text differs (with several new sections)...

    £150

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. [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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. [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

  14. 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

  15. FREEMAN, Arthur.

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

    Quaritch, 2014.

    An inventory of books and manuscripts relating to literary forgery, complete with three supplements. 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,...

    £100

  16. FREEMAN, Arthur.

    Bibliotheca Fictiva [supplements].

    London, 2015-2021.

    Three supplements to Arthur Freeman's Bibliotheca Fictiva, 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...

    £45

  17. 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

  18. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    Blasting & Bombardiering …

    London, Eyre & Spottiswode, 1937.

    First edition, first issue binding, of one of Lewis’s best and best-known works. It was the first of two largely autobiographical books, this covering 1914-1926 as stated on the jacket, and is now remembered in particular for its coining of the much-discussed phrase ‘The Men of 1914’, referring...

    £500

  19. 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

  20. 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