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. 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

  2. [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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. [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

  6. SIDNEY, Algernon.

    Letters of the Honourable Algernon Sydney to the Honourable Henry Savile, Ambassador in France, in the Year 1679,...

    London, R. Dodsley, 1742.

    First edition of Sydney’s letters reporting on English politics. The republican political writer relates court happenings to Henry Savile (1642–1687), envoy-extraordinary in Paris. The text discusses the events relating to the Earl of Essex, Duke of Monmouth, and Lords Russell and Howard,...

    £150

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. STIRLING MAXWELL, Sir William.

    The cloister life of the Emperor Charles the Fifth . . . Second edition.

    London, John W. Parker & Son, 1853.

    Second edition; first published the previous year. It is dedicated to Richard Ford, ‘as a mark of admiration for his writings, and as a memorial of friendship’.

    £125

  11. STOTHERT, William.

    A narrative of the principal events of the campaigns of 1809, 1810, and 1811, in Spain and Portugal; interspersed...

    London, P. Martin, 1812.

    First edition of this scarce and very early account of the Peninsular War. William Stothert (1780–1815), from Kirkcudbrightshire, was an infantry adjutant with the Third Foot Guards. His work takes the form of 45 letters dated between 12 March 1809 and 20 December 1811, and includes accounts of the...

    £600

  12. STRYPE, John.

    The Life of the learned Sir John Cheke, Kt., first Instructer, afterwards Secretary of State, to King Edward VI.,...

    London, John Wyat, 1705.

    First edition of Strype’s biography of the courtier and classicist Sir John Cheke, inaugural Regius Professor of Greek at Cambridge.

    £450

  13. 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

  14. [SWEDENBORG, Emanuel].

    De nova Hierosolyma et ejus Doctrina Coelesti: ex Auditis e Coelo. Quibus praemittitur aliquid de Novo Coelo...

    Londoni: [Printed by John Lewis,] 1758.

    First edition of Swedenborg’s ‘New Jerusalem’, in which he describes a new church based on faith, charity and the unification of existing protestant churches.

    £975

  15. [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

  16. TACITUS, C. Cornelius; Justus LIPSIUS and Hugo GROTIUS (editors).

    [Opera] C. Corn. Tacitus ex I. Lipsii editione...

    Leiden, Elzevir, 1640.

    First edition with Grotius’s notes, elegantly bound in early nineteenth-century English morocco. Elzevir had published an edition of Lipsius’s Tacitus in 1634; Dibdin notes ‘Of these elegant little editions [of 1634 and 1640], that of 1640 is preferred, on account of its having the notes...

    £500

  17. 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

  18. 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

  19. 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