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. [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...

    £100

  2. 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, an 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, etc. Gardiner’s letter...

    £1250

  3. GÉNIE ANGLOIS (LE),

    ou histoire abrégée des revolutions fréquentes de la Grande-Bretagne; par un esprit desintéressé.

    A Dublin [i.e. the Netherlands]: chez Jaques Pepiat. 1723.

    First and only edition of this curious children’s history of England in French, up to the death of Queen Anne in 1714.

    £650

  4. GENUINE ACCOUNT (A)

    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,...

    £1250

  5. 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...

    £450

  6. [GOLDSMITH, Oliver].

    A History of England, in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to his Son. To which are added two Letters on...

    Basil: Printed and sold by James Decker. Paris, sold by Levrault frères … 1800.

    First Swiss edition of Goldsmith’s popular history (first published 1764), ‘a proper guide for the instruction of boys’; this was the second Continental edition, following that of Paris in 1788.

    £350

  7. [GOLDSMITH, Oliver].

    The Vicar of Wakefield: a Tale. Supposed to be written by himself ... The second Edition. Vol. I. [-II].

    London: Printed for F. Newbery ... 1766.

    Second edition, published two months after the first, printed by William Strahan in 1000 sets, and revised throughout by Goldsmith, with more than 450 new substantive readings, nearly all of them accepted by Arthur Friedman as authorial and admitted into the definitive Oxford text (Collected Works, 1966,...

    £850

  8. GOLDSMITH, Oliver.

    Essays … Collecta revirescunt.

    London: Printed for W. Griffin … 1765.

    First edition, a collection of twenty-seven essays. The other edition of 1765, more cheaply printed and with a letterpress title-page, is given priority by Temple Scott, but Rothschild suggests it is a piracy or a cheap edition printed to meet extra demand – it is certainly less generously imposed,...

    £500

  9. [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

  10. [GROTIUS, Hugo.]

    Sententie, uyt-ghesproocken ende ghepronuncieert over Hugo de Groot, ghewesen Pensionaris der Stadt Rotterdam...

    ’s-Graven-Haghe, Hillebrant Jacobssz., 1619.

    One of several editions to appear in the same year, including one in Latin and one in French. In 1618 Grotius and his patron, the Advocate of Holland, Jan van Oldenbarnevelt, had been driven from power by the Stadtholder, Prince Maurice of Orange, who was supported by the Calvinists, bitter opponents...

    £350

  11. 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

  12. [GUNPOWDER PLOT.]

    The Gunpowder-Treason, with a discourse on the manner of its discovery; and a perfect relation of the proceedings...

    London, Newcomb, Hills and Kettilby, 1679.

    Later edition, much expanded with a preface by Thomas Barlow, Bishop of Lincoln (1608/9-1691) and ‘several papers or letters of Sir Everard Digby … never before printed’; first published in 1606 as A true and perfect relation of the proceedings at the several arraignments of the...

    £450

  13. HALL, Major Herbert Byng.

    The Adventures of a Bric-a-Brac Hunter …

    London: Tinsley Brothers … 1868.

    First edition of a charming travel guide to Europe for the dilletante porcelain collector; some of the sketches that make up the book first appeared in the Belgravia magazine.

    £275

  14. [HAWKE, William].

    An authentic and genuine Narrative of the Life and surprizing Exploits, of William Hawke, the famous Highwayman,...

    London: Printed for the Author; and sold by R. Richards, at his Lottery-Office … 1774.

    First edition of a shilling life of the ‘monarch’ of highwaymen, William Hawke. He and his henchman were ‘the most daring and desperate gang … that ever infested the English roads’, but ‘though Hawke had many vices, yet he was not destitute of every virtue’, and was known for his generosity...

    £950

  15. HAYWARD, Sir John.

    The Life and Raigne of King Edward the Sixt …

    London, Printed for John Partridge [by Eliot’s Court Press and J. Lichfield at Oxford]… 1630.

    First edition, the variant without the added letter-press title-page. Hayward’s Life and Raigne is the earliest biography of Edward VI and remained an influential account of the King’s life for three centuries. The work was circulated in manuscript during the 1620s and published posthumously three...

    £500

  16. HAZLITT, William.

    Conversations of James Northcote, Esq., R.A. …

    London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley … 1830.

    First edition of Hazlitt’s final book, an inflammatory collection of gossip published just weeks before his death. ‘All the ill-nature in the book is Northcote’s; and all, or almost all, the talent’s, Hazlitt’s’ (Examiner, May 1833).

    £200

  17. HAZLITT, William.

    Conversations of James Northcote, Esq., R.A. …

    London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley … 1830.

    First edition of Hazlitt’s final book, an inflammatory collection of gossip published just weeks before his death. ‘All the ill-nature in the book is Northcote’s; and all, or almost all, the talent, Hazlitt’s’ (Examiner, May 1833).

    £250

  18. HEBER, Reginald, and Nicolas BARKER (editor).

    A Letter from India.

    The Roxburghe Club, 2020.

    'I do not expect that with fair prospects of eminence at home, you should go to the Ganges for a mitre,’ wrote Sir Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, President of the Board of Commissioners for Indian Affairs, in 1819 to Reginald Heber at Hodnet in Shropshire, but in vain. Despite a growing reputation...

    £100

  19. HILL, Richard, Sir.

    Logica Wesleiensis: or, the Farrago double distilled. With an heroic Poem in Praise of Mr. John Wesley …

    London: Printed for E. and C. Dilly … J. Matthews … and W. Harris … 1773.

    First and only edition, a somewhat eccentric reproof of Wesley’s increasingly strident attacks on Calvinism (and on Hill himself).

    £575

  20. HILL, Rowland.

    Journal of a Tour through the North of England and Parts of Scotland. With Remarks on the present State of the established...

    London: Printed by T. Gillet … and sold at Surr[e]y Chapel; also by T. Chapman [and seven others in London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow]. 1799

    First edition, an account of a Scottish tour conducted in July –September 1798 by the eccentric evangelical preacher Rowland Hill, followed by lengthy remarks on the Scottish church in a letter to the Baptist minister James Haldane. There is another issue with the title Journal through the North...

    £325