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.


    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...


  2. CHALMERS [CHAMBERS], David, Lord Ormond.

    Histoire abbregée de toutes les Roys de France, Angletaire, et Escosse … [with:]...

    Paris, Robert Coulombel ‘at the sign of Aldus’, 1579.

    First edition of the three principal works of David Chalmers (c. 1530–1592), a faithful follower of Mary, Queen of Scots, who appointed him Lord of Session and Privy Counsellor.


  3. [CHAPBOOK.]

    Narrow Escape from the Punishment of Death, or, The Case of John Taylor and John Burton, who were left for Execution...

    Collins … and Evans and Sons … [c. 1820–1826].

    An uncommon early chapbook from the press of Augustus Applegath (1788–1871), interpreting the real-life stay of execution for two sheep-stealers as an act of divine providence.


  4. CHESTERFIELD, Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of.

    Lettres ecrites par le tres-honorable … Comte de Chesterfield, a son Fils, Philippe...

    A Paris, chez Panckoucke [but probably printed in London]. 1775.

    First edition in French of Chesterfield’s famous Letters to his Son (1774). Although not recognized as such by Gulick (and not listed in ESTC), this is almost certainly an English production; press figures appear throughout all five volumes, the typography and disposition is generally English...


  5. CHESTERFIELD, Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth Earl of.

    Letters written … to his Son, Philip Stanhope, Esq; late Envoy Extraordinary...

    London: Printed for Dodsley … 1777.

    Eighth edition, textually insignificant but a very pretty set.


  6. CLARENDON, Edward Hyde, Earl of

    The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, begun in the Year 1641.  With...

    Oxford, Printed at the Theater, 1702[–4]. 

    First edition of Clarendon’s monumental History of the Civil War, with a presentation inscription by his son Henry Hyde, the second Earl (1638–1709). 


  7. [COCHRAN, Charles B.]

    OSTROWSKA, Wanda and Viola G. GARVIN. London’s Glory.

    London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1945.

    First edition, a poignant collection of paintings of war-torn London by the Polish artist-in-exile Wanda Ostrowska, accompanied by extracts from her own writings and narrative by Viola Garvin.


  8. 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...


  9. COLERIDGE, S[amuel] T[aylor].

    The Statesman’s Manual; or the Bible the best guide to political Skill and Foresight: a Lay Sermon,...

    London: Printed for Gale and Fenner … J. M. Richardson … and Hatchard … 1816.

    First edition of the first of Coleridge’s ‘Lay Sermons’, written in Highgate at the house of James Gillman, to whom Coleridge had come as an in-patient for his opium addiction.


  10. CORRADO III TRINCI, Lord of Foligno.

    Letter in his name in Italian to Cipriano, ‘lieutenant of the territory of Trevi’,...

    Foligno, 9 February, no year but c. 1430s.

    The family of the Trinci ruled over Foligno, first as independent princes and then as vicars of the church from 1305 to 1439. The sender of the present letter is probably the third Corrado, last of the dynasty, ‘detested for his cruelty’ (Litta, Celebri famiglie Italiane vol. I fasc. 6,...


  11. CROMARTY, George Mackenzie, Earl of.

    An historical Account of the Conspiracies by the Earls of Gowry, and Robert Logan of Restalrig,...

    First edition, dedicated to Queen Anne, ‘and to all the Princes who share in her royal blood’. The Vindication of Robert III was first published in 1695.


  12. [CURLL, Edmund, and others].

    An impartial History of the Life, Character, Amours, Travels, and Transactions of Mr. John Barber,...

    London: Printed for E. Curll … 1741

    First edition. A fine specimen of the sort of obituary pamphlet issued by Edmund Curll almost immediately after the death of notable public figures.


  13. [CURLL, Edmund, editor].

    Impartial Memorials of the Life and Writings of Thomas Hearne, M.A. by several Hands.

    London: Printed in the Year 1736.

    First separate edition (based on John Bilstone’s hostile preface to Hearne’s Vindication of those who take the Oath of Allegiance, 1731, and first printed in this form as part of volume III of Curll’s edition of Mr. Pope’s Literary Correspondence, 1735).


  14. CURTIUS Rufus, Quintus. 

    De rebus Alexandri Magni, cum commentario perpetuo & indice absolutissimo Samuelis Pitisci, quibus accedunt...

    Utrecht, Franciscus Halma, 1685. 

    First Halma edition of Curtius’s history of Alexander the Great, with a series of accomplished etched illustrations by Jan van den Aveelen. 


  15. [DA PORTO, Luigi.]

    ‘Lettere di Alvigi da Porto vicentino al Savorgnano, al Ghilini, e ad altri intorno ai successi della Guerra...

    [Milan, c. 1800].

    A manuscript of an influential and then-unpublished historical work by the author of the original Romeo and Juliet, copied from a sixteenth-century codex at the Bibliotheca Ambrosiana.


  16. [DEFOE, Daniel].

    A Letter to the Dissenters.

    London: Printed for John Morphew … 1713.

    First edition, the state with p. 48 numbered correctly. This tract is an admonition to Defoe’s fellow Dissenters, ‘saying that they enjoy great privileges at present, the Queen having undertaken to maintain the Toleration Act and even having for long resisted the Act against Occasional Conformity....


  17. [DE LA COSTE.]

    Voyage philosophique d’Angleterre fait en 1783 et 1784.

    A Londres. Et se trouve à Paris, chez Poinçoit … 1787.

    First edition, second issue, with cancel title-pages redated 1787 (first 1786) – an interesting and detailed sociological discussion of England and in the English on the eve of the French Revolution, in the form of discursive letters. The author deals with London’s institutions and buildings, taverns...


  18. DENNIS, John.

    The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry, contain’d in some new Discoveries never made before, requisite for the Writing...

    London, Printed for Geo. Strahan … and Bernard Lintott … 1704.

    First edition. Published as a ‘preliminary’ to a proposed, but never completed, masterwork, The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry comprises a Preface, Proposal and ‘Specimen’, the latter being an essay substantially on Milton, ‘one of the greatest and most daring Genius’s that has appear’d...


  19. DESLANDES, André-François Boureau.

    Dying Merrily: or, historical and critical Reflexions on the Conduct of great Men in all Ages,...

    London: Printed for M. Cooper ... 1745.

    First edition of this translation of Réfléxions sur les grands hommes que sont morts en plaisantant (1712), by the philosopher and naval official André-François Deslandes (1670–1757), an important precursor of the Encyclopédistes.


  20. 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.