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. LIVY, Titus. 

    T. Livii Patauini […] ex XIIII Decadibus Historiae Romanae ab Urbe condita, Decades, prima, tertia, quarta,...

    Paris, [Michel Vascosan for] Oudin Petit, 1543 [– Michel Vascosan for himself and Oudin Petit, 1542]. 

    A much-praised edition of Livy’s History, reprinting Vascosan’s 1535 edition and including the philological corpus on Livy by the most established humanists of the time: Rhenanus, Gelenius, Grynaeus, Glareanus, Badius Ascensius, Valla, and Sabellico. 


  2. [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...


  3. [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...


  4. 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.


  5. [MARANA, Giovanni Paolo (attr.).]

    Letters on the French Nation, by a Sicilian Gentleman resident in Paris, to his Friend...

    London: Printed for T. Lownds ... 1749. 

    First edition of this translation, very rare, of a work first printed in French in Paris in 1700 (see below) and, in a different translation, in English in 1704 as An agreeable Criticism of the City of Paris


  6. 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,...


  7. MEAD, Richard.

    A Short Discourse concerning pestilential Contagion, and the Methods to be used to prevent it … The third Edition.

    London: Printed [by William Bowyer] for Sam. Buckley … and Ralph Smith … 1720.

    ‘Third edition’ of the most famous medical tract on the plague scare of 1720-1, written at the request of James Craggs, the secretary of State following the bubonic outbreak in Marseilles in late 1719. There were seven London editions within the year, those from the third on being re-impressions...


  8. [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...


  9. MEURSIUS, Johannes. 

    Ioannis Meursi Regnum Atticum, sive de regibus Atheniensium, eorumque rebus gestis, libri III. 

    Amsterdam, Jan Jansson, 1633. 

    First edition, a study of ancient Attic mythology and history by the Dutch classicist Meursius (Jan van Meurs, 1579–1639). 


  10. 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...


  11. 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.


  12. MILTON, John. 

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

    [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). 


  13. [MONCRIEFF, Thomas].

    Memoirs concerning the ancient Alliance between the French and Scots, and the Privileges of the Scots in France....

    Edinburgh, Printed by W. Cheyne, and sold by W. Gordon, and other Booksellers in Town. 1751.

    First edition. The ancient alliance between Scotland and France, forged in the Middle Ages, some historians say as early as the reign of Charlemagne, was frequently invoked in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Memoirs begins with an excerpt from the treaty of 1326 between Charles IV...


  14. MORRIS, William, E.

    Belfort BAX, and Victor DAVE. The Socialist Platform. No. 4. A short Account of the Commune of Paris.

    London, socialist League Office, 1886.

    First and only edition of Morris’s, Bax’s, and Dave’s account of the Commune of Paris of 1871, presented as ‘the starting point of the irresistible Unity of Socialism in Europe and America’.


  15. [MULLIS, William].

    A brief Account of the Blue Coat Hospital, and Public Library, in the College, Manchester, founded by Humphrey...

    Manchester: Printed by Leech … 1826.

    Sole edition, privately printed and very rare. William Mullis was the deputy librarian of Chetham’s Library, the oldest free public reference library in the English-speaking world. It was founded in 1653, along with the Blue Coat School (two years earlier), by bequests from the merchant and banker...


  16. MUSGRAVE, Samuel.

    Two Dissertations. I. On the Graecian Mythology. II. An Examination of Sir Isaac Newton’s Objections to the...

    London, Printed by J. Nichols. 1782.

    First edition, published posthumously for the benefit of the author’s widow, with a generous list of subscribers thanks to the efforts of the editor, Thomas Tyrwhitt. In addition to Dr. Johnson other subscribers include Sir Joseph Banks, Edward Gibbon (two copies), David Hartley, Joshua Reynolds, Richard...


  17. [NAUDÉ, Philippe, attr. author].

    Histoire abrégée de la naissance & du progrez du Kouakerisme avec celle de ses dogmes.

    Cologne, Pierre Marteau, 1692.

    First edition of the earliest work on the Quakers to be published in French. In his survey of English Quakerism the author gives voice to widespread contemporary English criticisms of the movement, radicalizing the charge of Socinianism into one of ‘pure deism’ and ultimately atheism.


  18. NEPOS, Cornelius. 

    De vita excellentium imperatorum.  Interpretatione et notis illustravit Nicolaus Courtin … in usum serenissimi...

    Paris, Frères Barbou, 1726. 

    An attractive later Delphin edition (first 1675) of Cornelius Nepos’s LivesThe only surviving work by the first-century BC biographer Cornelius Nepos, the Vitae excellentium imperatorum once formed part of a broader De viris illustribus.  The Lives include Themistocles,...


  19. [NOVA SCOTIA.]

    A Fair Representation of His Majesty’s Right to Nova-Scotia or Acadie. Briefly stated from the Memorials of the...

    London: Printed by Edward Owen … 1756.

    First edition. ‘Résumé très bien fait de toute la question des frontières de l’Acadie entre la France et l’Angleterre; mais écrit au point de vue de l’Angleterre seulement’ (Gagnon).


  20. [O’BRIEN.] NA GOPALEEN, Myles. [Pseud.] Brian O’Nolan.

    The Best of Myles.

    New York: Walker & Company, 1968.

    First US edition, preceded by the London, MacGibbon & Kee edition of the same year.