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. DOZY, Reinhart Pieter Anne (Francis Griffin STOKES, translator).

    Spanish Islam: a history of the Moslems in Spain . . . translated...

    London, Chatto & Windus, 1913.

    First edition in English of Dozy’s comprehensive history of Islamic Spain from AD 711 to 1110, first published in 1861 as Histoire des Musulmans d’Espagne.


  2. DUNCAN, Francis.

    The English in Spain; or, the story of the War of Succession between 1834 and 1840. Compiled from the letters,...

    London, John Murray, 1877.

    First edition. ‘The author in the course of his researches into the history of the Royal Artillery during the years subsequent to 1815 . . . found many interesting letters and journals written by some of the most distinguished of his brother officers, who had been employed under the English Foreign...


  3. DUNLOP, John Colin.

    Memoirs of Spain during the reigns of Philip IV. and Charles II. from 1621 to 1700.

    Edinburgh, Thomas Clark, 1834.

    First edition. The Glaswegian John Dunlop (d. 1842) was well read in the Greek and Latin classics, and in the literatures of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. He saw his Memoirs of Spain as filling a gap between, on the one hand, his fellow Scot Robert Watson’s The history of the reign of...


  4. 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...


  5. 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.



    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.


  7. 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...


  8. 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...


  9. FLORUS.

    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.


  10. [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.


  11. 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...


  12. [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...


  13. 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...



    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.



    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,...


  16. 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.


  17. 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...


  18. [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.


  19. [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,...


  20. 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,...