English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees, Ted Hofmann or Alexander Laar

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. (a). GOULET, Robert.

    Compendium recenter editum de multiplici Parisiensis Universitatis magnificentia, dignitate, et excellentia,...

    Paris, Toussaint Denis, 1517.

    First edition of the first account of the University of Paris, ‘probably the earliest monograph on any university’ – E. P. Goldschmidt.

    £12500

  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 –...

    £650

  3. VERGIL, Polydore.

    Anglicae historiae libri vigintisex.

    Basel, Michael Isingrin, 1546.

    Second edition, much revised, of Vergil’s English History, dedicated to Henry VIII. It is seen as the beginning of modern English historiography, as an important piece of propaganda for the Tudor monarchy, and as an influence on Shakespeare’s history plays.

    £4400

  4. AEMYLIUS, Paulus (Paolo EMILIO).

    Historici clarissimi de rebus gestis Francorum…

    Paris, Michel Vascosan, 1550.

    Early editions of the three classical complementary chronicles of France from the fifth to the mid-sixteenth century, often issued and bound together.

    £750

  5. RAMUS, Petrus.

    Rhetoricae Destinctiones in Quintilianum. Parisiis, ex typographia Matthaei Davidis, 1550.

    Paris, 1550.

    1. Third edition. "This is Ramus' commentary on the twelve books of Quintilian's Institutiones oratoriae later combined with Brutus' Problems to form the Lectures on Rethoric" (Ong p. 147).

    £800

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. FULKE, William.

    A Sermon preached at Hampton Court, on Sonday being the 12. Day of November, in the Yeare of our Lord. 1570. Wherein...

    Imprinted at London by John Charlewod (sic). 1579.

    An important anti-Catholic sermon delivered at court, arguing that Rome is the Babylon of Revelations and the Pope is the Antichrist; it was first published in 1570 and several times reprinted. Fulke supports his argument with Scripture, early church fathers, numerology (‘Lateinos’ = 666),...

    £1100

  9. HERODIAN and ZOSIMUS.

    ΗΡΩΔΙΑΝΟΥ ΙΣΤΩΡΙΑΝΟΥ ΒΙΒΛΙΑ Η. Herodiani Histor. Lib. VIII. Cum Angeli Politiani...

    [Geneva]. Excudebat Henricus Stephanus Anno 1581.

    First edition thus, dedicated to Philip Sidney (1554-1586), who even at this date was beginning to achieve mythic status as the hope of Protestant Europe – a community for which Henri Estienne, a Huguenot exile in Geneva, was defiantly catering. Estienne had met Sidney at Heidelberg in 1573, and they...

    £1500

  10. OCLAND, Christopher.

    Anglorum praelia, ab Anno Domini. 1327. anno nimirum primo inclytissimi Principis Eduardi eius nominis tertii,...

    London, Henry Bynneman for Ralph Newbery, 1582.

    First published in 1580, this is one of three closely similar 1582 editions of Ocland’s Anglorum proelia which add two works at the end: Ocland’s Eirēnarchia (a continuation of Anglorum proelia first published in 1582) and Alexander Neville’s account of the 1549 Norfolk rising, De furoribus Norfolciensium...

    £1200

  11. [BOUCHER, Jean].

    Apologie pour Iehan Chastel Parisien, execute a mort, et pour les peres & escholliers, de la Societé de Iesus,...

    [Paris?], 1595.

    First edition of Boucher’s pseudonymous apology for Jean Châtel’s attempted assassination of Henri IV, described by the author as an ‘acte heroique’. Boucher (1548-1644) was prior and rector of the Sorbonne and an active member of the Catholic League who openly incited violent revolt against...

    £600

  12. PAULE, Sir George.

    The Life of the most reverend and religious Prelate John Whitgift, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury …

    London: Printed by Thomas Snodham. 1612.

    First edition. The author of this sympathetic biography had entered Whitgift’s service in 1584, at the age of twenty-one, and by 1599 he was comptroller of the Archbishop’s household. In the dedication to the new Archbishop, George Abbot, he writes that his ‘heart shall never be ungratefull’...

    £1100

  13. RAVENSCROFT, Thomas.

    A Briefe Discourse of the true (but neglected) use of Charact’ring the Degrees by their Perfection, Imperfection,...

    London, Printed by Edw: Allde for Tho. Adams 1614.

    First edition of a scarce and unusual work of music theory, with particular focus on various types of vernacular music – hunting songs, dances, drinking-songs, love-songs etc. The ‘Discourse’ is followed by twenty printed exempla in the form of part-songs for four voices, twelve by Ravenscroft...

    £16000

  14. 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

  15. [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

  16. JORNALL.

    A Jornall of certaine principall Passages in and before the Towne of S’hertogenbosh, from the 18 of August till the...

    London, Printed for Nicholas Bourne ... 1629

    First edition. The fortified Catholic town of ’s-Hertogenbosch (‘the Duke’s forest’) in Brabant in the southern Netherlands had endured as a Habsburg stronghold since the middle of the sixteenth century despite attempts by successive Princes of Orange to bring it under the rule of the Protestant...

    £450

  17. 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

  18. BACON, Francis.

    The Essayes or Counsels, civill and morall … Newly enlarged.

    London, Printed by John Haviland … 1632.

    Third edition of the definitive text of Bacon’s Essayes, first published in 1625. The first edition appeared in 1597 comprising only ten short essays; in 1612 these were revised and a further twenty-eight essays added. The 1625 edition contained fifty-eight essays, twenty of them new, and the rest...

    £650

  19. DONNE, John.

    Juvenilia or certaine Paradoxes and Problemes … The second Edition, corrected.

    London, Printed by E. P. for Henry Seyle … 1633.

    Second edition, published in the same year as the first, with the omission of the licences to print but adding twenty-three new lines to Problem I, ‘Why have Bastards best Fortune’ (‘Because Fortune herself is a Whore …’), a Problem which, Keynes remarks, ‘was particularly insulting to the...

    £3750

  20. MAY, Thomas.

    The Reigne of King Henry the Second, written in seaven Bookes. By His Majesties Command.

    London: Printed by A. M. and John Beale for Benjamin Fisher … 1633.

    First edition of a verse history dedicated to Charles I. May’s literary career had begun with his translation of Lucan’s strongly anti-imperial Pharsalia (1626-7), which also influenced several of his stage tragedies. But his republicanism was muted thereafter, and indeed his Continuation...

    £1850