English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees, Ted Hofmann or Alexander Laar

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. SPON, [Jacob].

    The History of the City and State of Geneva, from its first Foundation to this present Time. Faithfully collected...

    London, Printed for Bernard White, 1687.

    First edition in English of a work first published in French in 1680. The attribution here to ‘Isaac’ Spon apparently comes from a misinterpretation of ‘Jac[ques]’ on the title-page of the French original.

    £1200

  2. SPRAT, Thomas.

    Observations on Monsieur de Sorbier’s Voyage into England. Written to Dr. Wren ...

    London, Printed for John Martyn, and James Allestry, Printers to the Royal Society. 1665.

    First edition. When Samuel de Sorbière published his polemical Relation d’un Voyage en Angleterre (1664), touching on defects in the English nation and character, Thomas Sprat, afterwards Bishop of Rochester, composed an angry reply in the form of a letter to Christopher Wren (both were stalwarts...

    £850

  3. STILLINGFLEET, Edward.

    Sermons preached on several Occasions to which a Discourse is annexed concerning the true Reason of the...

    London, Printed by Robert White, for Henry Mortlock … 1673.

    First edition thus, comprising twelve sermons preached 1666-72 and ‘A Discourse concerning the Suffering of Christ’ (pp. 239-384); six of the sermons and the ‘Discourse’ were first published in 1669.

    £200

  4. SULIVAN, Richard Joseph.

    Philosophical Rhapsodies. Fragments of Akbur of Betlis. Containing Reflections on the Laws, Manners, Customs...

    London: Printed for T. Becket … Bookseller to his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and their Royal Highnesses the Princes. 1784-5.

    First edition of this eccentric travel-inspired treatise drawing upon the author’s experience in India and his travels in Europe. The prefatory ‘advertisement’ establishes the fiction that ‘the following fragments were written by a native of Assyria [Akbur], who … was removed to the continent...

    £950

  5. [SWIFT, Jonathan].

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse.

    London: Printed for John Morphew ... 1711.

    First edition, ordinary paper issue, the very rare first state, with G6-7 preserved (though slashed for cancellation); the cancellans was printed on A8, not here present.

    £1250

  6. TANNER, Anodyne, M.D., pseud.

    The Life of the late celebrated Mrs. Elizabeth Wisebourn, vulgarly call’d Mother Wybourn; containing...

    London: Printed for A. Moore … [1721?]

    First edition of a scurrilous account of Elizabeth Wisebourn[e], a famous bawd, and the goings-on in the gilded apartments of her elegant London brothel in Drury-Lane. Born in 1653 and educated in Rome under the tuition of a Lady Abbess to whom ‘she ow’d all that she knew of her Business’, Elizabeth...

    £1850

  7. TEMPLE, Sir William.

    An Introduction to the History of England …

    London, Printed for Richard Simpson … and Ralph Simpson … 1695

    First edition. Newly arrived in England from Trinity College, Dublin, Swift in 1689 entered upon a ten-year period as secretary to Sir William Temple at Moor Park near Farnham in Surrey. ‘Partly thanks to Swift’s support several of Temple’s important works were published in the 1690s, notably the...

    £450

  8. THOMSON, James.

    Essays and Phantasies …

    London: Reeves and Turner … 1881.

    First edition of a volume of essays by the author of The City of Dreadful Night. Most are probably reprinted from the National Reformer, the Secularist, or Cope’s Tobacco Plant, to which ‘the laureate of pessimism’ was a regular contributor.

    £150

  9. THORNBURY, George Walter.

    Art and Nature at Home and Abroad …

    London: Hurst and Blackett, Publishers, Successors to Henry Colburn … 1856.

    First edition: an early collection of essays by Thornbury (1828-1876), a prolific (and famously cacographic) writer who is closely associated with Dickens for his work on Household Words and All the Year Round (‘one of Charles Dickens’s most valuable contributors’; Dickens, Letters,...

    £450

  10. THORNBURY, Walter and Edward WALFORD.

    Old and New London. A narrative of its history, its people, and its places. London, Cassell...

    [with] Greater London… London, Cassell and Company, Ltd. 1898.

    The definitive guide to London’s history from the Roman era to the modern day. Covering all the major localities of the Capital, the work addresses the evolution, and occasional demolition, of various areas and buildings, along with the personal touch through accounts of significant occasions, riots,...

    £300

  11. TOMKINS, John, John FIELD and John BELL.

    Piety Promoted, ou, la Pieté promuë, ou avancée: contenant un Recueil de derniéres...

    A Londres: se vend chez la Veuve Hinde … 1770.

    First edition, the first French translation of Piety Promoted, a compilation of the ‘dying words’ of notable Quakers, many from North America, originally published in three parts by John Tomkins (1701-6; ‘the first and a very influential example of an important Quaker form’, Oxford...

    £250

  12. [TRADE CARD.]

    John Blundell, Engraver.

    In Honey-Suckle Court, Grubb-Street, London. 1742.

    A fine and rare trade card for the jobbing engraver John Blundell, the engraved text (in several different hands to demonstrate skill at lettering) surrounded by an ornate border of angels, putti and tools (compasses, palette, easels, busts, burins, sketches, and a map at the head).

    £600

  13. TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

    The Tunbridge Wells Guide; or an Account of the ancient and present State of the Place, to which is added a particular...

    Tunbridge Wells, Printed and sold by J. Sprange, at his Circulating Library. Sold also in London, by Rivington Booksellers … ‘1786’...

    The Tunbridge Wells Guide apparently first appeared in 1780; reissues and/or new editions, partly from standing type, with variously erratic pagination and a steady accretion of content, appeared throughout the 1780s and 1790s. ‘The hurry in putting this to the press,’ an ingenuous Preface...

    £500

  14. VERGIL, Polydore.

    Anglicae historiae libri vigintisex.

    Basel, Michael Isingrin, 1546.

    Second edition, much revised, of Vergil’s English History, dedicated to Henry VIII. It is seen as the beginning of modern English historiography, as an important piece of propaganda for the Tudor monarchy, and as an influence on Shakespeare’s history plays.

    £4400

  15. WALTON, Izaak.

    The Life of Mr. George Herbert … To which are added some Letters written by Mr. George Herbert, at his being in...

    London: Printed by Tho: Newcomb, for Rich: Marriott, sold by most Booksellers. 1670.

    First edition, second issue, with a cancel title-page adding mention of the Letters. There are four letters from Donne, one including a sonnet, and a poem at the end by Crashaw. The life, ‘a tissue of paraphrase and quotation, more Herbert than Walton’ (Oxford DNB), would also appear later in the...

    £950

  16. WALTON, Izaak.

    The Life of Dr. Sanderson, late Bishop of Lincoln ... to which is added, some short Tracts or Cases of Conscience,...

    London, Printed for Richard Marriott. 1678.

    First edition, the last of Walton’s five celebrated Lives.

    £400

  17. [WATTS, John].

    The Musical Miscellany; being a Collection of choice Songs [and lyrick Poems], set to the Violin and Flute [or With...

    London: Printed by and for John Watts … 1729 [–1731]

    First edition of an influential collection of over 450 songs and ballads, published in the years of the brief flowering of English ballad opera subsequent to The Beggar’s Opera (1728). For each song, Watts prints the melody (and from volume III on a bass continuo), the lyrics, and a flute or...

    £3850

  18. WILKINSON, Tate.

    Memoirs of his own Life … In four Volumes …

    York: Printed for the Author, by Wilson, Spence, and Mawman; and sold by G. G. J. and J. Robinson … and T. and J. Egerton … Anno 1790.

    First edition of the autobiography of the colourful actor and impresario Tate Wilkinson (1739-1803), patentee of the Theatres Royal in York, Hull and Edinburgh.

    £575

  19. WILLICH, Anthony Florian Madinger.

    Lectures on Diet and Regimen: being a systematic Inquiry into the most rational Means of preserving...

    London: Printed for T. N. Longman and O. Rees … 1799.

    Second edition, much revised and expanded, printed in the same year as the first: ‘Many important and useful articles have been added, especially in the fifth Chapter, “Of Food and Drink.”’ Willich’s very popular manual was based on a series of lecture given by the eminent physician at Bath...

    £375

  20. WISE, Francis.

    A Letter to Dr Mead concerning some Antiquities in Berkshire, particularly shewing that the White Horse, which gives...

    Oxford, Printed for Thomas Wood … 1738

    First editions. A Letter to Dr Mead was the first serious archaeological study of the Uffington White Horse. Francis Wise, Keeper of the Archives at Oxford University and later a friend of Samuel Johnson, contends that the horse, which he eulogises as a work of art, had Saxon origins, because...

    £350