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. [RIVERS, David].

    Literary Memoirs of living Authors of Great Britain, arranged according to an alphabetical Catalogue of their...

    London: Printed for R. Faulder … sold also by T. Egerton … and W. Richardson … 1798.

    First edition of a collection of literary biographies, including perhaps the earliest brief life of Coleridge, whose first volume of Poems had appeared in 1796:

    £1500

  2. R., N.

    Proverbs English, French, Dutch, Italian and Spanish. All Englished and alphabetically digested …

    London, Printed for Simon Miller … 1659.

    First and only edition of a scarce collection of idiomatic phrases and proverbs, many translated from other languages, with a selection of 114 ‘Golden sentences’ at the end.

    £1750

  3. ROGERS, Samuel.

    Recollections of the Table-Talk of Samuel Rogers. To which is added Porsoniana.

    London: Edward Moxon ... 1856.

    First edition of this mine of contemporary literary gossip. Rogers is among that select group of poets to have declined the laureateship, and his poetry once had an ardent fan in Byron, who saw him as a much needed antidote to the Lake poets. His most durable achievement, however, has proved to be his...

    £150

  4. SANCROFT, William.

    Familiar Letters of Dr. William Sancroft, late Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, to Mr. North, afterwards Sir Henry...

    London, Printed for M. Cooper … and sold by Mr. Chreigton [sic] at Ipswich. 1757.

    First edition: ‘pleasant, chatty, and jocose’ letters from 1652-93 (original DNB), and useful source material for the life of the nonjuring Archbishop of Canterbury.

    £350

  5. [SCOTLAND.

    ACT OF UNION.] A coherent tract volume of ten pamphlets, for and against the Union, published in 1705-6.

    The months leading up to the Act of Union in January 1707 were a time of heated debate in Scotland. Politicians, writers, the landed gentry, churchmen, and others joined in making their opinions known in tracts and speeches. To pressures from an England anxious to ensure a Protestant succession were...

    £3750

  6. SCOTT, Sir John, of Scotstarvit.

    The Staggering State of the Scots Statesmen, for one hundred Years, viz. from 1550 to 1650 …...

    Edinburgh: Printed by Wal. Ruddiman jun. and Company; and sold by R. Nimmo … 1754.

    First edition of a reflection on the instability of success, including the author’s own fall from office after years of service to King and country; Thomas Carlyle described the work as ‘a strange little book, not a satire but a Homily on Life’s nothingness enforced by examples’. It circulated...

    £250

  7. SEYPPEL, Karl Maria.

    Schlau, Schlauer am Schlausten. --- Er Sie Es. IIte Aegyptische Humoreske.--- Die Plagen 3te Aegyptische Humoreske.

    Dusseldorf, Felix Bagel, [1884].

    First editions. With the Jewish population attaining greater prominence both economically and culturally, the 1880s saw a corresponding wave of emerging anti-Semitism across Central and Eastern Europe. The present works aim to provide a historical precedent for anti-Semitism dating back to the age of...

    £950

  8. [SHAFTESBURY, Anthony Ashley [Cooper], third Earl of].

    Several Letters written by a noble Lord to a young Man at the University …

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1716.

    First edition, posthumously published. The ten letters here were written by Shaftesbury to a protégé, Michael Ainsworth, whilst at Oxford (1707-1710). Shaftesbury’s own teacher, John Locke, features in a number of them, receiving from his erstwhile pupil both praise (‘No one has done more towards...

    £350

  9. SHAW, Eyre Massey, Capt.

    Report … to the Right Hon. the Secretary of State of the Home Department concerning the Fire which occurred...

    London: Printed for Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode … 1888.

    First edition of Shaw’s account of the disastrous fire at the Theatre Royal, Exeter, in 1887.

    £150

  10. SHERIDAN, Richard Brinsley.

    The Speech … in the House of Commons, (8th December 1802) on the Motion for the Army Establ shment...

    London: Printed for John Stockdale … 1802

    First edition of Sheridan’s impressive speech on the army estimates, in support of funding precautions against Buonaparte’s aggression – ‘the crisis in which we are placed … so big with tremendous importance, so pregnant with mighty difficulties, so full of apprehensions and dangers ….’...

    £75

  11. [SHIPLEY, William].

    Comparative Observations on two of the Poems which were honoured with Prizes in a late Certamen at Ch. Ch....

    York: Printed in theYear 1767

    First edition of an undergraduate prank in which the future Dean of St. Asaph ridicules the awarding of prizes by the Dean of Christ Church and his fellow judges to two Latin poems written in honour of a visit by the Prince of Brunswick. An ironic dedication to the Dean is followed by the text of the...

    £350

  12. SMITH, William.

    The Speeches of Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States, in...

    Philadelphia printed, London reprinted for John Stockdale, 1794.

    First London edition, a rebuff to the punitive anti-British tariffs proposed by the future President James Madison, first printed in Philadelphia in the same year and also reprinted in Edinburgh.

    £175

  13. SOCIETY FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF ARTS, MANUFACTURES, AND COMMERCE.

    Premiums by the Society, established at London, for the Encouragement...

    London: Printed by Order of the Society. 1759.

    First edition of the 1759 list of premiums. The Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, now known as the Royal Society of Arts, was founded in 1754 by William Shipley, a drawing master living in Northampton, to awarded ‘premiums’ (cash prizes) to support improvements in...

    £450

  14. SOUTHWELL, Robert.

    Autograph letter, signed, concerning problems of tenure with certain estates including his own, and concerning...

    Kinsale, 18 October 1677

    Robert Southwell (d. 1677), father of the diplomat and future secretary of state for Ireland Sir Robert Southwell, was a land owner and government administrator with various official responsibilities at Kinsale. Like others during the Commonwealth he had been able to increase his estates by acquiring...

    £350

  15. 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

  16. 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

  17. STAFFORD, R. S., Lt.-Colonel.

    The tragedy of the Assyrians.

    London, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1935.

    First edition. Stafford, a British administrative inspector in Iraq, provides a firsthand account of the massacre of the Assyrians, a Christian minority then resident in northern Iraq, at the hands of the Iraqi military in 1933. He lays the ground for this bloody culmination by sketching the Assyrians’...

    £140

  18. 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

  19. 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

  20. [SWEDENBORG, Emanuel].

    De Coelo et ejus Mirabilibus, et de Inferno, ex Auditis & Visis.

    Londoni: [Printed by John Lewis,] 1758.

    First edition, early issue before the final errata leaf was ready (several copies in ESTC are the same).

    £1300