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. [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...

    £350

  2. MORE, Thomas.

    The Common-wealth of Utopia: containing a learned and pleasant Discourse of the best State of a publike-Weale, as...

    London, Printed by B. Alsop & T. Fawcet, and are to be sold by Wil: Sheares … 1639.

    Fifth edition of More’s Utopia in English, translated by Ralph Robinson – the last edition of his translation, first published in 1551, and revised in 1556. Alsop printed a corrected edition in 1624, with a dedication to More’s grandson, Cresacre More, which is reprinted here.

    £2500

  3. 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’.

    £650

  4. 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...

    £450

  5. NAPIER, William Francis Patrick.

    English battles and sieges in the Peninsula. Extracted from his ‘Peninsula War’, by Lieut.-Gen....

    London, Chapman & Hall, 1852.

    First edition. ‘In this publication, the combats of Roriça, Vimiero, and Coruña, and the character of Sir John Moore, have been entirely recomposed. The other battles and sieges are, with more or less compression of details, transcripts from the History of the Peninsular War. Thus arranged they will...

    £185

  6. [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.

    £750

  7. 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 the surviving biographies of the first-century BC Roman writer Cornelius Nepos. Part of an original series of ‘Lives of famous men’ (De viris illustribus), the surviving biographical sketches, mostly of generals, include Themistocles and Hannibal....

    £275

  8. [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).

    £750

  9. [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.

    £150

  10. [OCCUPIED FRANCE]

    Finis les mauvais jours! Papa gagne de l’argent en Allemagne! [The bad days are over! Daddy is earning money...

    [Paris], Office de Répartition de l´Affichage, 1943.

    Rare, encouraging the voluntary relocation of French workers from impoverished and semi-starved France to Germany factories.

    £300

  11. PALMERSTON, Henry John Temple, third Viscount.

    Signed undertaking to procure an Assignment of Term from the Executors of the Will...

    22 July 1806.

    Document signed by the young Palmerston, arising from the sale of his property at East Sheen, near Mortlake, to Thomas Bernard of Wimpole Street in 1805.

    £675

  12. [PATCH, Richard, defendant.]

    The Trial of Richard Patch, for the wilful Murder of Mr. Isaac Blight, on the 23d of Sept. 1805, at...

    London: Printed, by the express Appointment of the Sheriff, for Edward Jeffery ... Sold by John Walker ... H. D. Symonds ... Harris ... W....

    First edition of this report of a famous trial (there was a rival version from the shorthand of Joseph and W. B. Gurney). Richard Patch (1770?-1806) was an unsuccessful farmer near Exeter who mortgaged his farms in 1803 and departed to London, where he entered the service of Isaac Blight, a ship-breaker...

    £325

  13. [PEMBERTON, Henry].

    Observations on Poetry, especially the epic: occasioned by the late Poem upon Leonidas.

    London: Printed by H. Woodfall. Sold by J. Brotherton … J. Nourse … and T. Dodsley … 1738.

    First edition, a piece of literary criticism inspired by Richard Glover’s long poem Leonidas (1737), ‘a high-minded epic on the virtuous resistance by the Spartan king (perhaps an optimistic portrait of Frederick [Prince of Wales]) to the effeminate and treacherous Persian army’ (Oxford...

    £325

  14. PERUCCI, Francesco.

    Pompe funebri di tutte le nationi del mondo, raccolte dale storie sagre et profane.

    Verona, Francesco Rossi, 1639.

    First edition of Perucci’s extensively illustrated account of funeral practices, inscribed by a Scottish antiquary and documented book collector. A fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and later the Royal Society, Walter Bowman (1699–1782) travelled extensively over the course of five decades...

    £1350

  15. PICKARD, Edward.

    The Character and Reward of the good and faithful Servant. A Sermon preached at Crouched Friars, London, April...

    London: Printed by Richard Hett, for J. Noon … J. Buckland … and C. Henderson … 1762.

    First edition of a sermon that provides an extended biographical notice (pp. 25-34) of the Presbyterian theologian George Benson (1699-1762). Benson embarked on an industrious series of interpretative Biblical paraphrases after the manner of Locke in the 1730s. His most famous work, published after he...

    £125

  16. [PINNOCK, William].

    A catechism of the history of Scotland; including every important event relating to that country. From its...

    London, Pinnock and Maunder, 1820.

    Early edition of this oft-reprinted but uncommon guide to Scottish history, one of many catechisms on all types of subject published by the writer and publisher William Pinnock (1782-1843). The history of Scotland appears to have concluded with the ’45 rebellion; the final question and answer pair...

    £95

  17. PIOZZI, Hester Lynch.

    British Synonymy; or, an Attempt at regulating the Choice of Words in familiar Conversation. Inscribed, with...

    London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson … 1794.

    First edition of a fascinating collection of short essays on synonyms, intended as a help to her husband and his foreign friends. Mrs. Piozzi began work on her Synonymy in early 1792, and by August was hard at the grindstone: ‘ten pages o’ Day copying, besides a little Composition now and...

    £950

  18. PLINY the Younger.

    Epistolarum libri X & panegyricus.

    Leiden, [Bonaventure & Abraham] Elzevir, 1640.

    First Elzevir edition, handsomely bound for the Irish politician Thomas Wogan Browne.

    £450

  19. PLUTARCH.

    ...

    [(Colophon:)] Venice, Nicolao di Aristotile detto Zoppino, March]1525.

    An attractive illustrated edition of twenty-seven of Plutarch’s lives, extensively annotated by a Papal tax-collector, in a striking contemporary binding.

    £2750

  20. PLUTARCH [and Jodocus BADIUS Ascensius (editor)].

    Vitae … novissime … longe diligentius repositae, majoreque...

    Venice, Melchiorre Sessa [the elder] & Pietro Ravani, 26 November 1516.

    First substantially illustrated edition of Plutarch’s Lives, with signs of early reading. First published in this popular translation in Paris in 1514 by French scholar-printer Jodocus Badius Ascensius (1462–1535) in collaboration with Jean Petit, the text is here accompanied by seventy-eight...

    £4250