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. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    Blasting & Bombardiering …

    London, Eyre & Spottiswode, 1937.

    First edition, first issue binding, of one of Lewis’s best and best-known works. It was the first of two largely autobiographical books, this covering 1914-1926 as stated on the jacket, and is now remembered in particular for its coining of the much-discussed phrase ‘The Men of 1914’, referring...


  2. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    Men without Art …

    London, Cassell & Company Limited, [1934].

    First edition; Lewis takes on and demolishes Hemingway, Faulkner, and Woolf. Bridson reviewed the book in The Criterion in January 1935, pp. 335-337.


  3. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    The Writer and the Absolute …

    London, Methuen & Co., Ltd., [1952].

    First edition, inscribed ‘To my dear friend Geoffrey Bridson / Wyndham Lewis / 25 June 1952’. The work was published the following day.


  4. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    The Demon of Progress in the Arts.

    London, Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1954.

    First edition, inscribed ‘To Geoffrey / my best copy / Wyndham’. Lewis breaks here with abstraction in the arts, naming Michael Ayrton, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, Ceri Richards and others as ‘the finest group of painters and sculptors which England has ever known’. Ayrton collaborated...


  5. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    America, I Presume.

    New York, Howell, Soskins & Co., [1940].

    First edition, Lewis’s first impressions of America after his abrupt departure thence in September 1939. He was to remain in North America for the duration of World War WII.


  6. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    The Lion and the Fox. The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare …

    London, Methuen & Co. Ltd., [1955.]

    Reprint of the second edition of Lewis’s ‘first political book’, a collection of essays engaging with Shakespeare and Machiavelli first published in 1927 and then reissued by Methuen in 1951; inscribed in a very shaky hand ‘To Geoffrey Bridson from Wyndham / Oct 1956’.

    ‘The Lion...


  7. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    An Anthology of his Prose. Edited with an introduction by E.W.F. Tomlin.

    London, Methuen & Co Ltd., [1969].

    First edition. ‘The Sea-Mists of Winter’, Lewis’s famous article on the approach of blindness, appears in this Anthology for the first time in book form – the original article from The Listener is also laid in. Bridson has noted in pencil where the book text differs (with several new sections)...


  8. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    Ezra Pound, un saggio e tre disegni.

    Milan, all’insegna del pesce d’oro [Scheiwiller], 1958.

    First edition, an hors serie copy (from numbered edition of 1000), a translation by Pound’s daughter, Mary de Rachewiltz, of an essay that first appeared in Pound’s 65th birthday festschrift in 1950; this translation was published in part ‘to celebrate Ezra Pound’s return to Italy’.


  9. LEWIS, Wyndham, and D. G. BRIDSON.

    Typescript for broadcast: ‘Satiric Verse … The text of a lecture delivered at Harvard University...

    Transmitted 9 July and 23 August 1957.

    Although a recording of Lewis reading from ‘One Way Song’ was made at Harvard in 1940, the lecture that accompanied it, ‘Satiric Verse’, was not then recorded. For the 1957 broadcast it was read by Walter Allen ‘from Lewis’s own manuscript notes’. Several other sections were read by Stephen...


  10. LIVY, Titus, and Thomas RUDDIMAN (editor).

    Historiarum ab urbe condita libri qui supersunt, cum omnium epitomis,...

    Kincaid, & J. Brown, 1751.

    A very attractive set of the first Ruddiman edition. One of the last works prepared by Thomas Ruddiman (1674–1757), this ‘superb edition of Livy’ (ODNB) was highly praised for its accuracy and is a fine testament both to his classical scholarship and to his printing house. The son of a Banffshire...


  11. [LONDON.]

    Indenture tripartite concerning ‘two severall mesuages or tenements scituate lying and being in or neere fleetstreete...

    [London], 20 May 1659

    In 1641 Richard Baskerville, described as gentleman, acquired five messuages (houses) in or near Fleet Street from Katherine, the widow of Sir Simon Baskerville, the King’s physician who died that year and was buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. By an indenture dated 5 August 1651 he granted a 500-year...



    Louis Xavier Auguet de Saint-Sylvain, Baron de [Jean Toussaint MERLE, editor]. The career of Don Carlos, since the...

    London, Richard Bentley, 1835.

    First edition in English. First published in French earlier the same year and quickly translated into German and Spanish as well as English. Saint-Sylvain was a French legitimist who became a significant personal aide to Don Carlos. ‘Admitted to the confidence of the legitimate heir of the Spanish...


  13. [LYTTELTON, George, Lord Lyttelton, attributed author].

    The Court-Secret: a melancholy Truth. Now first translated from the original...

    London: Printed for T. Cooper … 1741

    First edition of a political satire in the guise of an oriental fable, criticizing the peace policy and wasteful expenditures of the Vizier [Walpole] in perpetuating ‘his ill-got Power’ in the prelude to the war with Spain, and implicating him in the death of Achmet [the Earl of Scarborough], the...


  14. MACAULEY, Auley.

    A Sermon on the peculiar Advantages of Sunday Schools: preached in the Parish Church of St. Paul, Bedford, on...

    London, Printed for C. Dilly … and sold by the Booksellers of Bedford, Northampton, and Leicester, for the Benefit of the Institution. [1792].

    First edition of a rare sermon to promote Sunday Schools by the uncle of Thomas Babington Macaulay and brother of the abolitionist Zachary Macaulay.


  15. MARTINEAU, Harriet.

    British Rule in India; a historical Sketch …

    London: Smith, Elder and Co … 1857.

    First edition. Martineau wrote regularly for the Daily News from 1851-66, and produced nearly 1600 leaders in which she addessed international issues such as the American Civil War, and Britain’s position in the West Indies, Ireland and India. Her articles on India contributed to this work,...


  16. [MEREDITH, Royston].

    Mr. Steele detected: or, the poor and oppressed Orphan’s Letters to the great and arbitrary Mr. Steele;...

    London: Printed for John Morphew … 1714.

    First and only edition: a fulminating attack on The Ladies Library. Written by a Lady. Published by Mr. Steele (1714), now known to be a curious adaptation by Bishop Berkeley of Jeremy Taylor’s devotional classics, The Rule and Exercise of Holy Living and Holy Dying, in ‘large...


  17. MEURSIUS, Johannes.

    Theseus sive de ejus vita rebusque gestis liber postumus. Accedunt ejusdem paralipomena de pagis atticis et...

    Utrecht, François Halma, 1684.

    First edition of this posthumously published work by the eminent Dutch classical scholar and antiquary Meursius (1579–1639), giving an account of the life and deeds of Theseus, the mythical hero and king of Athens, including a chapter on his slaying of the Minotaur.


  18. MIDDLETON, Conyers.

    A Letter from Rome, shewing an exact Conformity between Popery and Paganism: or, the Religion of the Present...

    London: Printed for William Innys and Richard Manby … 1733

    Third edition. ‘The significant achievement’ of a winter in Rome, collecting antiquities and recovering his health, was Middleton’s ‘Letter from Rome, published in 1729, which argued vigorously that many customs and rituals in the Roman Catholic Church derived from ancient pagan religion. Though...


  19. MILBANK, Augustus Sussex.

    A Treatise upon the political & social Condition of Europe, from the Fall of the Roman Empire, down to...

    [Richmond, M. Bell for] London, Messrs Hatchard & Son, and Richmond, M. Bell, 1847.

    First and only edition of a rare Yorkshire-printed treatise of social history by an amateur historian and educational enthusiast, inscribed by the author to the Countess of Sandwich.


  20. MILTON, John.

    Literæ Pseudo-Senàtûs Anglicani, Cromwellii, reliquorumque Perduellium nominee ac jussu conscriptæ a Joanne Miltono.

    [Amsterdam]: Impressæ [by Pieter and Willem Blaeu, probably for Moses Pitt], Anno 1676.

    First edition, device of fruit on the title-page (distinguishing it from the second edition, probably Brussels, which has a grotesque face and corrects some misprints).