English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees, Ted Hofmann or Alexander Laar

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. 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...



    To the Nobility, Gentry, Magistrates, Clergy and other Inhabitants of the Northern Parts of the Counties of Durham...

    [N.p., n.p., c. 1794].

    Unrecorded broadside, issued ‘in order to obviate errors, and refute misrepresentations, concerning the history and situation of the French Ecclesiasticks who were landed some time ago at Sunderland’.


  3. [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...


  4. FULKE, William.

    A Sermon preached at Hampton Court, on Sonday being the 12. Day of November, in the Yeare of our Lord. 1570. Wherein...

    Imprinted at London by John Charlewod (sic). 1579.

    An important anti-Catholic sermon delivered at court, arguing that Rome is the Babylon of Revelations and the Pope is the Antichrist; it was first published in 1570 and several times reprinted. Fulke supports his argument with Scripture, early church fathers, numerology (‘Lateinos’ = 666),...


  5. 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,...


  8. GIBBON, Edward.

    Miscellaneous Works … with Memoirs of his Life and Writings, composed by himself: illustrated from his Letters,...

    London: Printed for A. Strahan, and T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies … 1796.

    First edition, Hugh Cleghorn’s copy.


  9. 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...


  10. [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.


  11. [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,...


  12. 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,...



    The Grand Mortar, from Cadiz, in St. Jame’s [sic] Park Explanation of the Carriage, allegorical Figures, Inscriptions...

    [London, n.p., c. 1814.]

    The Grand Mortar, a gift from the Spanish nation in honour of the Duke of Wellington, stands with two other guns opposite Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall. It was installed and decorated to commemorate the siege of Cadiz (1810 -1812), in which the Spanish coastal city was defended by a relatively small...


  14. [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...


  15. 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.


  16. [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...


  17. 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...


  18. 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).


  19. 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).



    ΗΡΩΔΙΑΝΟΥ ΙΣΤΩΡΙΑΝΟΥ ΒΙΒΛΙΑ Η. Herodiani Histor. Lib. VIII. Cum Angeli Politiani...

    [Geneva]. Excudebat Henricus Stephanus Anno 1581.

    First edition thus, dedicated to Philip Sidney (1554-1586), who even at this date was beginning to achieve mythic status as the hope of Protestant Europe – a community for which Henri Estienne, a Huguenot exile in Geneva, was defiantly catering. Estienne had met Sidney at Heidelberg in 1573, and they...