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. THUCYDIDES.

    ΘΟΥΚΥΔΙΔΗΣ. THVCYDIDES.

    (Colophon:) Venice, Aldus, May 1502.

    A handsome copy of the first edition of the Greek text of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War, printed by the great Aldus Manutius, with an interesting provenance.

    £25000

  2. PSEUDO-HEGESIPPUS.

    De rebus a Iudaeoru[m] principibus in obsidione fortiter gestis, deq[ue] excidio Hierosolymorum, aliarumq[ue]...

    Cologne, Jaspar Gennepaeus, 1544.

    An early edition of this popular Latin account of the Jewish War of 66-73 AD, with a dedication by Philipp Melanchthon. The text borrows heavily from the Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus, and is attributed in extant manuscripts either to Hegesippus –...

    £500

  3. GUAZZO, Marco.

    Historie di M. Marco Guazzo di tutti i fatti degni di memoria nel mondo successi dal 1524 sino a l’anno 1549....

    Venice, Giolito, 1549.

    First edition thus, this copy owned by the future Pope Clement XII, of a remarkable history of recent and contemporary events, first published in 1540 and here updated by almost ten years, resuming the account of world event and Italian politics and including references to American history from 1522.

    £3600

  4. RAMUS, Petrus.

    P. Rami ... Oratio de legatione.

    Paris, Andreas Wechel, 1557.

    First (?) edition: a fascinating pamphlet marking a critical epoch in the history of the University of Paris and the first occasion on which Ramus came into prominence as champion of his University and of higher education in general.

    £800

  5. RAMUS, Petrus.

    Harangue ... touchant ce qu'ont faict les deputez de l’Université de Paris envers le Roy. Mise de Latin en Francois.

    Paris, Andreas Wechel, 1557.

    First French-language edition of the above, issued simultaneously with the Latin text and presumably translated by Ramus himself. Apart from La Dialectique, this is one of Ramus’ very few works in the vernacular. Very rare.

    £950

  6. [FRANCE and ITALY.]

    A collection of manuscript and printed material pertaining to French territorial ambitions in Italy.

    [1537 – c. 1630].

    A collection of memoranda concerning French ambitions in the Italian peninsula during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

    £750

  7. HOOKER, Richard.

    Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, eight Bookes [Bound with:] Certayne Divine Tractates … London, Printed...

    … London: Printed by Will. Stansby, and are to be sold by Mat. Lownes … 1617.

    Fourth edition, first issue, of the Preface and Books 1-4 (first published in 1593), third edition of Book 5 (first published in 1597), bound here with the third edition of ‘Certayne Divine Tractates’ (1631), issued with a 1622 general title-page (rather than the usual 1632).

    £650

  8. [GROTIUS, Hugo.]

    Sententie, uyt-ghesproocken ende ghepronuncieert over Hugo de Groot, ghewesen Pensionaris der Stadt Rotterdam...

    ’s-Graven-Haghe, Hillebrant Jacobssz., 1619.

    One of several editions to appear in the same year, including one in Latin and one in French. In 1618 Grotius and his patron, the Advocate of Holland, Jan van Oldenbarnevelt, had been driven from power by the Stadtholder, Prince Maurice of Orange, who was supported by the Calvinists, bitter opponents...

    £350

  9. HAYWARD, Sir John.

    The Life and Raigne of King Edward the Sixt …

    London, Printed for John Partridge [by Eliot’s Court Press and J. Lichfield at Oxford]… 1630.

    First edition, the variant without the added letter-press title-page. Hayward’s Life and Raigne is the earliest biography of Edward VI and remained an influential account of the King’s life for three centuries. The work was circulated in manuscript during the 1620s and published posthumously three...

    £500

  10. 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

  11. MORE, Thomas.

    The Common-wealth of Utopia: containing a learned and pleasant Discourse of the best State of a publike-Weale, as...

    London, Printed by B. Alsop & T. Fawcet, and are to be sold by Wil: Sheares … 1639.

    Fifth edition of More’s Utopia in English, translated by Ralph Robinson – the last edition of his translation, first published in 1551, and revised in 1556. Alsop printed a corrected edition in 1624, with a dedication to More’s grandson, Cresacre More, which is reprinted here.

    £2500

  12. PERUCCI, Francesco.

    Pompe funebri di tutte le nationi del mondo, raccolte dale storie sagre et profane.

    Verona, Francesco Rossi, 1639.

    First edition of Perucci’s extensively illustrated account of funeral practices, inscribed by a Scottish antiquary and documented book collector. A fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and later the Royal Society, Walter Bowman (1699–1782) travelled extensively over the course of five decades...

    £1350

  13. [LONDON.]

    Indenture tripartite concerning ‘two severall mesuages or tenements scituate lying and being in or neere fleetstreete...

    [London], 20 May 1659

    In 1641 Richard Baskerville, described as gentleman, acquired five messuages (houses) in or near Fleet Street from Katherine, the widow of Sir Simon Baskerville, the King’s physician who died that year and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. By an indenture dated 5 August 1651 he granted a 500-year...

    £650

  14. R., N.

    Proverbs English, French, Dutch, Italian and Spanish. All Englished and alphabetically digested …

    London, Printed for Simon Miller … 1659.

    First and only edition of a scarce collection of idiomatic phrases and proverbs, many translated from other languages, with a selection of 114 ‘Golden sentences’ at the end.

    £1750

  15. SPRAT, Thomas.

    Observations on Monsieur de Sorbier’s Voyage into England. Written to Dr. Wren ...

    London, Printed for John Martyn, and James Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society. 1665.

    First edition. When Samuel de Sorbière published his polemical Relation d’un Voyage en Angleterre (1664), touching on defects in the English nation and character, Thomas Sprat, afterwards Bishop of Rochester, composed an angry reply in the form of a letter to Christopher Wren (both were stalwarts...

    £850

  16. [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

  17. 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

  18. [POPE, Walter].

    The Memoires of Monsieur Du Vall: containing the history of his Life and Death. Whereunto are annexed his last...

    London, Printed for Henry Brome … 1670.

    First(?) edition of partly fictitious and often satirical life of the highwayman Claude Duval, published shortly after his execution in 1670. This is the more substantial of two opportunistic biographies, between them the main sources of information about him, though by no means entirely trustworthy.

    £750

  19. [REEVE, Gabriel].

    Directions left by a Gentleman to his Sonns: for the Improvement of barren and heathy Land, in England and Wales.

    London, Printed by E. T. and R. H. for R. Royston … 1670

    Sole edition of one of the first books in English devoted to soil conservation. The dedication is signed Gabriel Reeve and dated from Hackney, 14 April 1670.

    £650

  20. STILLINGFLEET, Edward.

    Sermons preached on several Occasions to which a Discourse is annexed concerning the true Reason of the...

    London, Printed by Robert White, for Henry Mortlock … 1673.

    First edition thus, comprising twelve sermons preached 1666-72 and ‘A Discourse concerning the Suffering of Christ’ (pp. 239-384); six of the sermons and the ‘Discourse’ were first published in 1669.

    £200