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. [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.


  2. [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,...


  3. 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,...


  4. [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.


  5. 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.


  6. [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).


  7. 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.


  8. 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).


  9. 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).


  10. 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...


  11. 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).


  12. 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...


  13. [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...


  14. [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...


  15. 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,...


  16. 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).


  17. 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...


  18. [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,...


  19. [JOHNSON, Samuel].

    A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell … 1775.

    London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell … 1775

    Unacknowledged second edition. Two thousand copies of the first edition were printed as far as sheet R when Strahan, sensing the demand, decided to increase the press run to four thousand. The 2000 overrun sheets, T-Z and 2A-2B, and a reprint of the earlier sheets A-D and F-R, may be identified...


  20. 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.