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. [HAKEWILL, William].

    The Manner of holding Parliaments in England, collected forth of our ancient Records … With the stately...

    [London,] Printed in the Yeare, 1641.

    First (and only lifetime) edition, signed on the title-page by the notorious forger of ‘Shakespeare’s Library’, William Henry Ireland (1775–1835).


  2. 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.


  3. 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).


  4. 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).


  5. 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...


  6. HERODOTUS, and Isaac LITTLEBURY (translator). 

    The History of Herodotus: Translated from the Greek …  The Third...

    London, for D. Midwinter, A. Bettesworth & C. Hitch, J. & J. Pemberton, R. Ware, C. Rivington, J. Batley & J. Wood, F. Clay, A. Ward,...

    The ‘third’ (in fact fourth) and final edition of the first complete English translation of Herodotus’s History


  7. 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).


  8. 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...


  9. [HILL, ‘Sir’ John].

    A Night Scene at Ranelagh on Wednesday 6th of May 1752. Thus I bore my point; six rogues in buckram let...

    [London], May 29 Publish’d … by H. Carpenter … [1752]

    Sole edition. The self-styled ‘Sir’ John Hill, sometime a physician and an actor, is best known for the ‘Paper War’ in 1751-2 between his ‘Inspector’ columns in the London Daily Journal and Fielding’s Covent-Garden Journal. It began in good humour but soon turned to real antagonism...


  10. [HILL, ‘Sir’ John, attributed author].

    The Oeconomy of Human Life. Part the Second. Translated from an Indian Manuscript, found...

    London: Printed for M. Cooper ... 1751.

    First edition of this opportunistic work by the self-styled ‘Sir’ John Hill (so attributed in ESTC). It purports to be the sequel to Robert Dodsley’s highly successful The Oeconomy of Life (1750; sometimes attributed to P. D. Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield), and is written in the same poetic prose...


  11. HOLE, Richard.

    Remarks on the Arabian Nights’ Entertainment; in which the Origin of Sinbad’s Voyages, and other oriental Fictions,...

    London: Printed for T. Cadell, Junior, and W. Davies, Successors to Mr. Cadell … 1797.

    First edition of a whimsical but erudite treatise ‘first read at the meeting of a Literary Society in Exeter’, where members included Richard Polwhele. After initial scepticism, Hole’s research led him to conclude the narratives had a basis in fact. Hole went on to write a parallel work on Homer,...


  12. HOOKER, Richard.

    Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie, eight Bookes [Bound with:] Certayne Divine Tractates … London, Printed...

    … London: Printed by Will. Stansby, and are to be sold by Mat. Lownes … 1617.

    Fourth edition, first issue, of the Preface and Books 1-4 (first published in 1593), third edition of Book 5 (first published in 1597), bound here with the third edition of ‘Certayne Divine Tractates’ (1631), issued with a 1622 general title-page (rather than the usual 1632).


  13. JEFFERIES, Richard.

    Hodge and his Masters …

    London, Smith, Elder, & Co. … 1880.

    First edition, an influential volume of sketches of rural life, collected from Jefferies’ articles in the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard. Jefferies (1848-1887) had published his first novel The Scarlet Shawl in 1874, after some years as a rural newspaperman; with Hodge and his Masters...


  14. [JEFFREYS, George, first Baron Jeffreys].

    The Life and Character of the late Lord Chancellor Jefferys [sic] ...

    London: Printed by A. Moore ... 1725.

    First edition of an uncomplimentary life of the notorious Judge Jeffreys, who presided at the trial of Titus Oates. The author, according to the introduction, was a ‘Practicer at the Bar’ recently deceased, who had lived to a good age and was ‘well acquainted with all the Chancellor’s Proceedings,...


  15. JUSTINUS, Marcus Junianius, and Lucius FLORUS. 

    [Epitome historiarum:] Justini historici clarissimi in Trogi Pompei historias...

    [Venice, Bartolomeo Zani, 3 February 1503]. 

    A thoroughly annotated copy of a greatly influential compendium of Trogus’s monumental forty-four-book Historia of the world from Babylon to the Augustan era. 


  16. [JUVENILE.] 

    Preliminary lessons on the history of England, originally compiled for private use, and now adapted to the junior...

    Taunton, J. Poole, 1821. 

    Later edition of this uncommon Taunton-printed sketch of English history for use in primary schools, which first appeared in 1809.  After brief notes on Julius Caesar, the Saxons, and notable pre-Conquest kings, the book offers a short overview of the character of each monarch (and monarch substitute)...


  17. KAFKA, Franz.

    Wedding Preparations in the Country and Other Posthumous Prose Writings.

    London, Secker and Warburg, 1954.

    First edition in English. Translated by Ernst Kaiser and Eithne Wilkins, with notes by Max Brod. ‘Although Kafka’s almost unceasing guilt and anxieties seem to mark him as a man of pestilential morbidity and gloom, it is not the important effect he has on us. He has a kind of cunning. His plain and...


  18. KETT, Henry.

    The Flowers of Wit, or a Choice Collection of Bon Mots, both antient and modern; with biographical and critical Remarks...

    London: Printed for Lackington, Allen, and Co. … at the Weybridge Press, by S. Hamilton. 1814.

    First edition, scarce, of a compilation of witty anecdotes and clever ripostes ordered alphabetically by author (including Cervantes, Queen Elizabeth, Samuel Johnson, ‘The Spartans’, Swift, Voltaire), and then by subject, with an appendix of ‘Puns’ and ‘Bulls’.


  19. [LANGHORNE, John].

    Letters supposed to have passed between M. de St. Evremond and Mr. Waller. Now first collected and published....

    London: Printed in the Year, 1770.

    Unacknowledged second edition; first published in two volumes in 1769. These supposed letters between the poet Edmund Waller and his contemporary, the French essayist Saint-Evremond are in fact by the poet and translator John Langhorne; they range widely over literary matters, including anecdotes about...


  20. LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, François, Duc de.

    The Memoirs of the Duke de La Rochefoucault. Containing the private Intrigues for obtaining...

    London, Printed for James Partridge … 1683.

    First edition in English, translated from Mémoires de M. D.L.R. sur les brigues à la mort de Louys XIII (1662). At court in his earlier years La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) took an active part in the cabals and rivalries that surrounded Richelieu and Louis XIII, and subsequently in the Fronde...