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. GIBBON, Edward.

    The history of the decline and fall of the Roman empire.

    London, printed for W. Strahan & T. Cadell, 1776–88.

    First editions of all six volumes of Gibbon’s ‘masterpiece of historical penetration and literary style’ (PMM). The first volume here is of the second variant (of two), with the errata corrected as far as p. 183 and X4 and a4 so signed.

    £14000

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. ELIOT, George.

    The Writings …

    Boston and New York, Houghton Mifflin and Company, 1908.

    The Large-Paper edition of Eliot’s complete works, no. 184 of 750 sets.

    £2500

  10. DILWORTH, W. H.

    The History of the Conquest of Mexico, by the celebrated Hernan Cortes. Containing a faithful and entertaining...

    London: Printed for William Anderson … 1759.

    First edition, very scarce, of a history of the conquistadores for young readers, loosely derived from Antonio Solís de Ribadeneyra’s Historia de la Conquista de México.

    £1850

  11. [CARTOUCHE.]

    The Life and Actions of Lewis Dominique Cartouche: who was broke alive upon the Wheel at Paris, Nov. 28. 1721. N.S....

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1722.

    First edition in English, published in the same year as the French original. Louis Dominique Bourguignon, alias ‘Cartouche’ (1693-1721), began his life of crime stealing fruit from women at the gates of his Jesuit school and books from his wealthy classmates. To avoid punishment for theft he fled...

    £1750

  12. 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

  13. [TREATIES.]

    Volume of tracts on European treaties of peace and alliance.

    Vienna and Amsterdam, 1725-1731.

    A collection of scarce texts relating to the Peace of Vienna (1725) and subsequent treaties of Hanover (1725), Paris (1727), Seville (1729), and Vienna (1731), with contemporary manuscript additions in Italian and French clearly composed by someone in diplomatic service. The collection eloquently...

    £1750

  14. [RICHARDSON, Jonathan].

    The general Address (in two Parts) of the Outinian Lecturer to his Auditors …. London: Printed by W....

    London: Printed by W. Nicol, late Bulmer & Co. … 1822

    First edition, very rare. The Address is a revised version of the valedictory lecture given on 31 December 1818 to mark the centenary of the death of William Penn. It gives an explanation of the origins of the Society and then is entirely directed to the career and particularly the principles of William...

    £1600

  15. [RIVERS, David].

    Literary Memoirs of living Authors of Great Britain, arranged according to an alphabetical Catalogue of their...

    London: Printed for R. Faulder … sold also by T. Egerton … and W. Richardson … 1798.

    First edition of a collection of literary biographies, including perhaps the earliest brief life of Coleridge, whose first volume of Poems had appeared in 1796:

    £1500

  16. WORDSWORTH, William.

    A Letter to a Friend of Robert Burns: occasioned by an intended Republication of the Account of the Life of...

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown …1816.

    First edition. James Currie’s Works of Burns with a life and letters was first published in 1800 and several times reprinted and enlarged.

    £1500

  17. [GRANT, Charles, Vicomte de Vaux.]

    Recueil d’Essais, ou précis des opinions, et des mémoires, du Vte de *** …

    A Londres: De l’Imprimerie de T. Spilsbury & Fils. 1793.

    An interesting tract volume, containing the scarce collected thoughts of Charles Grant, vicomte de Vaux (a subscriber’s copy), a fine illustrated guide to Nîmes and the Pont du Gard, and three pamphlets relating to a controversy in the medical faculty in Edinburgh.

    £1500

  18. 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

  19. [AUGUSTINE, Saint, attributed author.]

    The Meditations of Saint Augustine, from the Latin Original. By the Rev. J. Martin, O.S.A. …

    Dublin: Printed for the Author, by H. Fitzpatrick … 1798

    First edition of this rare translation of the pseudo-Augustinian Meditationum Liber, an eleventh-century devotional text very popular in the Middle Ages.

    £1250

  20. 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