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.

  1. [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...


  2. 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...


  3. 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.


  4. 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...


  5. 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...


  6. FLORUS, Lucius. 

    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. 


  7. FREEMAN, Arthur.

    Bibliotheca Fictiva [supplements].

    London, 2015-2021.

    Three supplements to Arthur Freeman's Bibliotheca Fictiva, 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...


  8. FREEMAN, Arthur.

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

    London, Bernard Quaritch Ltd, 2024.

    The fully revised and enlarged edition of Bibliotheca Fictiva, offered with three in-depth essays on individual forgeries as a complement to the original volume.


  9. FREEMAN, Arthur, and Janet ING FREEMAN.

    Courtship, Slander, and Treason: Studies of Mary Queen of Scots, the Fourth Duke...

    London, 2019.

    Courtship, Slander, and Treason presents two independent but complementary studies of episodes in the career of Mary, Queen of Scots after her flight to England in 1568: her ‘forbidden match’ with the ranking English peer Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk, in 1568–72, and her own...


  10. [FRYER, Michael, editor.]

    The Trial and Life of Eugene Aram; several of his Letters and Poems; and his Plan and Specimens of an...

    Richmond: Printed by and for M. Bell … 1832

    First edition. The unfortunate Yorkshire schoolmaster Eugene Aram, implicated with the shoemaker Daniel Clark in fraud in 1745, and twelve years later accused of Clark’s murder, was convicted and hanged in 1759. While in prison in York, without books and papers, he produced the Plan and Specimens published...


  11. FRY, Theodore.

    A brief Memoir of Francis Fry, F.S.A. of Bristol. By his Son … Not published.

    [London, Printed by Barclay and Fry,] 1887.

    First edition. Francis Fry (1803–1886) of Bristol, the preeminent student and collector of English Bibles in his time, was also an active partner in the Quaker family firm of chocolate and porcelain manufacturers and type founders. Among his publications were a facsimile of the first complete...


  12. FULBECKE, William.

    An Historicall Collection of the continuall Factions, Tumults, and Massacres of the Romans and Italians during...

    London, Printed for William Ponsonby. 1601.

    First edition. Fulbecke’s Historicall Collection ‘was a narrative history of the last years of the Roman republic and it is significant as one of the very few attempts by a Renaissance Englishman to write such a work … An interesting attempt to weave together such often-contradictory...


  13. GADESBY, Richard.

    A new and easy Introduction to Geography, by Way of Question and Answer, divided into Lessons. Principally designed...

    London: Printed for the Author, and sold b S. Bladon … 1783

    Second edition, revised, very rare, published following the success of the first edition (1776) and its use ‘in many principal boarding schools, particularly those for young ladies’. Gadesby, ‘private teacher of writing, accounts, geography, &c.’, laments the neglect of geography, a very necessary...


  14. GARDINER, John Smallman. 

    The Art and the Pleasures of Hare-Hunting.  In six Letters to a Person of Quality … 

    London: Printed by R. Griffith … 1750. 

    First edition, scarce, of this eloquent and amusing account of hare-hunting, the first monograph on the subject in English, comprising letters on the superiority of hare-hunting to fox-hunting (less dangerous, less laborious), on the best types of dogs, of trailing and starting hares, &c.  Gardiner’s...


  15. [GELENIUS, Sigismund (editor).] 

    Notitia utraque, dignitatum, cum orientis, tum occidentis, ultra arcadii honoriique tempora,...

    Lyons, [Jacques du Creux for] Jean de Gabiano, 1608. 

    An expanded edition, illustrated on almost every leaf, of an anonymous fifth-century description of the Roman Empire. 



    of the Life and Actions of James Maclean, Highwayman, to the Time of his Trial and receiving Sentence at the...

    London, W. Falstaff, [1750].

    First edition, the scarcer of two contemporary pamphlet biographies of the ‘gentleman highwayman’ James Maclaine (1724-1750). The son of a Scottish Presbyterian minister, Maclaine, having squandered an early inheritance and his wife’s money, joined up with a down-at-luck apothecary, William Plunkett,...


  17. 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.


  18. GIOVIO, Paolo. 

    Elogia veris clarorum virorum imaginibus apposita.  Quae in musaeo Ioviano Comi spectantur.  Addita in calce...

    Venice, Michele Tramezzino, 1546. 

    First edition of Giovio’s biographies of illustrious men, with several marginal corrections, remarks, and comments by a contemporary reader, whose knowledge of biographies of the past encompassed several authors, including Erasmus. 


  19. GLOVER, John.

    The Hidden and happy Life of a Christian, amidst a Variety of Trials and Afflictions incident to the present State,...

    London: Printed by R. Hawes … and sold by Mr. Buckland, Bookseller … and Mr. Keith … London; Mr. Booth, at Norwich; Mr. Punchard, at...

    First edition, very scarce: the spiritual diary of the evangelical Calvinist John Glover from its commencement in 1764 until shortly before his death ten years later. The diary revolves around anxiety about temptations, spiritual withdrawal and silent prayer, and the solace Glover draws from religious...


  20. GOLDSMID, Edmund.

    Explanatory Notes of a Pack of Cavalier Playing Cards, temp. Charles II., [cover title: illustrated in Facsimile]...

    Edinburgh, E. & G. Goldsmid, 1886.

    First edition of this explanation and reproduction of a deck of anti-Cromwellian satirical playing cards, designed by Francis Barlow, comprising a playful catalogue of events relating to Oliver Cromwell’s Rump Parliament of 1648–1653.