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. PLUTARCH [and Jodocus BADIUS Ascensius (editor)].

    Vitae … novissime … longe diligentius repositae, majoreque...

    Venice, Melchiorre Sessa [the elder] & Pietro Ravani, 26 November 1516.

    First substantially illustrated edition of Plutarch’s Lives, with signs of early reading. First published in this popular translation in Paris in 1514 by French scholar-printer Jodocus Badius Ascensius (1462–1535) in collaboration with Jean Petit, the text is here accompanied by seventy-eight...

    £4250

  2. FLORUS.

    Lucii Flori rerum ab urbe condita liber primus [– quartus].

    [Venice, in aedibus Aldi et Andreae Soceri, March 1521.]

    Florus’s epitome of Roman history, extracted from the Aldine edition of March 1521 which comprised an epitome of Livy, Florus, and Niccolò Perotti’s translation of Polybius.

    £750

  3. PLUTARCH.

    ...

    [(Colophon:)] Venice, Nicolao di Aristotile detto Zoppino, March]1525.

    An attractive illustrated edition of twenty-seven of Plutarch’s lives, extensively annotated by a Papal tax-collector, in a striking contemporary binding.

    £2750

  4. DIO CASSIUS.

    Dione historico delle guerre et fatti de Romani. Tradotto di Greco in lingua vulgare per M. Nicolo Leoniceno. Con...

    Venice, Niccolò Zoppino, March 1533.

    First edition of Dio’s Roman History in any language, translated into Italian from the original Greek by Niccolò Leoniceno and preceding the Greek editio princeps, printed by Robert Estienne in 1548, by some fifteen years.

    £2750

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. XENOPHON.

    De Cyri regis Persarum vita atque disciplina, libri VIII.

    Paris, Andreas Wechel, 1572.

    First edition of Joachim Camerarius’ Latin translation of Xenophon’s Cyropaedia, a partly fictional work on the life and education of Cyrus the Great which served as a model for medieval and renaissance mirrors of princes, including Machiavelli’s Il Principe. A beautiful...

    £875

  10. [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

  11. LE MIRE, Aubert (editor).

    Rerum toto orbe gestarum chronica a Christo nato ad nostra usque tempora. Auctoribus Eusebio Caesariensi...

    Antwerp, apud Hieronymum Verdussium, 1608.

    First edition of this collection of chronicles, covering sixteen hundred years of world history from the birth of Christ to its publication, composed by the ecclesiastical historian Aubert le Mire of Brussels, this copy from the library of Jacques Auguste de Thou.

    £3750

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. PLINY the Younger.

    Epistolarum libri X & panegyricus.

    Leiden, [Bonaventure & Abraham] Elzevir, 1640.

    First Elzevir edition, handsomely bound for the Irish politician Thomas Wogan Browne.

    £450

  17. TACITUS, C. Cornelius; Justus LIPSIUS and Hugo GROTIUS (editors).

    [Opera] C. Corn. Tacitus ex I. Lipsii editione...

    Leiden, Elzevir, 1640.

    First edition with Grotius’s notes, elegantly bound in early nineteenth-century English morocco. Elzevir had published an edition of Lipsius’s Tacitus in 1634; Dibdin notes ‘Of these elegant little editions [of 1634 and 1640], that of 1640 is preferred, on account of its having the notes...

    £500

  18. [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

  19. 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

  20. 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