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. [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

  2. 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...

    £950

  3. COBBETT, William.

    A Collection of facts and observations, relative to the peace with Buonaparte, chiefly extracted from the Porcupine...

    London, Cobbett and Morgan, 2 November 1801.

    First edition, collecting anti-Jacobin articles from Cobbett’s Porcupine 51 June to 27 October 1801, alongside eight letters by him to Lord Hawkesbury, and nine appendices of treaties and speeches. The Porcupine, launched as an independent newspaper by Cobbett in October 1800,...

    £350

  4. [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.

    £75

  5. 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...

    £450

  6. [COLETTE, Sidonie-Gabrielle - WILLY [i.e. Henri Gauthier-Villars]]. KELLER, Fernand, and André LAUTIER.

    Colette (Colette Willy),...

    Paris, Éditions de La Nouvelle Revue Critique, 1923.

    First edition of this critical work on Colette, with Willy’s manuscript annotations throughout. The copy was subsequently in the possession of Willy’s friend Pierre Varenne, who has added a pencilled note to the blank endleaf: ‘Annotations manuscrites de Willy. P.V.’, and a ms. postcard to Varenne...

    £900

  7. COOKE, Edward.

    Memorabilia, or, the most remarkable passages and counsels collected out of the several declarations and speeches...

    London, for Nevil Simmons, Tho. Simmons, and Sam. Lee, 1481 [i.e. 1681].

    First edition, scarce on the market, of this compendium by the legal writer and lawyer Edward Cooke (fl. 1680-1682), written during the hysteria of the Popish Plot and the Exclusion Crisis under Charles II. Cooke joined the polemical battle to exclude the openly Catholic James, duke of York, from...

    £250

  8. CORNELIUS NEPOS.

    Cornelii Nepotis vitae excellentium imperatorum, editio nova emendatior.

    Amsterdam, J. Wetstein, 1745.

    An uncommon pocket edition of Cornelius Nepos’s Lives, attractively bound with striking gilt endpapers. The only surviving work by the first-century BC biographer Cornelius Nepos, the Vitae excellentium imperatorum once formed part of a broader De viris illustribus. The...

    £125

  9. 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.

    £150

  10. [CRULL, Jodocus.]

    The compleat history of the affairs of Spain, from the first treaty of partition, to this present time. Containing...

    London, Jos. Barns (and others), 1707.

    First edition. Published during the 1701–14 War of the Spanish Succession, this work gathers together numerous articles, declarations and letters relating to the war and to the events immediately preceding it, such as the Treaty of The Hague (1698) and the Treaty of London (1700), both of which attempted...

    £250

  11. CRUSO, Timothy.

    Twenty-Four Sermons preached at the Merchant-Lecture at Pinners Hall …

    London: Printed by S. Bridge, for Thomas Parkhurst … 1699.

    First edition, published posthumously, an uncommon collection of sermons by Timothy Cruso, schoolfriend of Defoe, who memorialised his name in Robinson Crusoe.

    £450

  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.

    £650

  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).

    £450

  14. [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....

    £750

  15. 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...

    £1250

  16. DENNIS, John.

    An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakespear: with some Letters of Criticism to the Spectator … London: Printed...

    London, 1704-1716.

    First editions of Dennis and Sewell, later edition of Gay with cancel title-page.

    £1250

  17. 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 le grands homes que sont morts en plaisantant (1712). The translator T. W. has not been identified. A different translation by Abel Boyer, interspersed with English verse (presumably at the suggestion of Boyer), had appeared in 1713 under the...

    £450

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. [DISNEY, John].

    Memoirs of Thomas Brand-Hollis Esq. ...

    London: Printed by T. Gillet ... 1808.

    First edition of a privately printed memoir of Thomas Brand of the Hyde, who assumed the name Brand-Hollis on inheriting the Dorset estates (and library and collection of sculpture) of his friend the ‘Republican’ Thomas Hollis, the Whig bibliophile. The author, John Disney, a close friend of Thomas...

    £750