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. [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

  2. 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

  3. [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

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. [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

  8. [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

  9. [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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. [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

  15. DUTENS, Louis.

    An Inquiry into the Origin of the Discoveries attributed to the Moderns: wherein it is demonstrated, that our most...

    London: Printed for W. Griffin … 1769.

    First edition in English of Recherches sur l’origine des découvertes attribuées aux modernes (Paris, 1766), an illuminating and voluminous study of how ‘in almost all truths of the greatest importance, the ancients preceded the moderns; or at least pointed out, or prepared the way, for their...

    £300

  16. ESSAY UPON MODERN GALLANTRY (AN).

    Address’d to Men of Honour, Men of Pleasure, and Men of Sense. With a seasonable Admonition...

    London: Printed for A. More … 1726.

    Second edition, unrecorded, published in the same year as the first – apparently from the same setting of type with the title-page altered to add the edition statement.

    £1000

  17. EYRE, Henry.

    A Brief Account of the Holt Waters, containing one Hundred and Twelve eminent Cures, perform’d by the Use of the...

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1731.

    First edition. The waters from Bath, Bristol and Holt, in Wiltshire, were the most popular English mineral waters of the eighteenth century, in no small part due to the activity of Henry Eyre, ‘Sworn Purveyor to Her Majesty [Queen Caroline, wife of George II] for all Mineral Waters’. Eyre ran a distribution...

    £750

  18. FIDDES, Richard.

    A General Treatise of Morality, form’d upon the Principles of natural Reason only. With a Preface in Answer...

    London: Printed for S. Billingsley … 1724.

    First edition, the variant with the misprint ‘FIDDFS’ in the author’s name on the title. ‘Written against Shaftesbury’s Inquiry Concerning Virtue and Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, and displaying marked sympathy with the works of Malebranche and [John] Norris of Bemerton, this book was a...

    £850

  19. [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

  20. FREEMAN, Arthur.

    Bibliotheca Fictiva: a Collection of Books and Manuscripts Relating to Literary Forgery 400 BC – AD 2000.

    London, Bernard Quaritch Ltd, 2014.

    An inventory of books and manuscripts relating to literary forgery. Spanning some twenty-four centuries, the book seeks also to define and describe the controversial genre it represents. Individual entries offer specific commentary on the forgers and their work, their exposers and their dupes. A broad...

    £60