English Literature

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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. URCEO, Antonio [or Codro].

    Hoc Codri volumine haec continentur. Orationes, seu sermones ut ipse appellabat. Epistolae. Silvae....

    Bologna, Giovanni Antonio Benedetti, 7 March 1502.

    First edition of a quintessential piece of Italian humanism, annotated by a sixteenth-century reader particularly interested in the philology of the texts.

    £3000

  2. [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

  3. VALERIUS FLACCUS, Gaius. 

    Argonauticon … libri VIII, a Ludovico Carrione Brugensi locis prope innumerabilibus emendati, ejusdem...

    Antwerp, Christopher Plantin, [15 July] 1565. 

    First edition, a very attractive copy, of Louis Carrio’s precocious – and perhaps overconfident – recension of the first-century Argonautica of Valerius Flaccus. 

    £1250

  4. 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

  5. HENNEQUIN, Pierre.

    Nouveau cours de rhétorique, à l’usage de la jeunesse des deux sexes; dédié à sa Majesté l’Impératrice...

    Moscow, Auguste Semen, 1818.

    Only edition, very uncommon, of this guide to rhetoric by the Moscow-based French grammarian Pierre Hennequin (1772–1849), explicitly designed for both sexes and dedicated to the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (1759–1828).

    £950

  6. WALKER, John.

    Hints for Improvement in the Art of Reading ...

    London: Printed for the Author, and sold by T. Cadell ... G. Robinson ... and T. Becket ... 1783

    First edition. The future lexicographer John Walker (1732-1807) left grammar school and then absconded from an apprenticeship to join a succession of provincial theatre companies. Garrick hired him in 1754 and for the next four years he performed a number of mainly minor parts at Drury Lane. In 1758...

    £650

  7. [ROYAL PRUSSIAN SOCIETY OF SCIENCES.] 

    Miscellanea berolinensia ad incrementum scientiarum, ex scriptis societati regiae scientiarum...

    Berlin, Johann Christoph Papen, 1723. 

    First continuation of Leibniz’s Miscellanea berolinensia First appearing in 1710, the publication of the Miscellanea was revived in 1723 as the official journal of the Royal Prussian Society of Sciences after the death of Leibniz, its founding President.  The Continuatio comprises...

    £575

  8. SAUSSURE, Ferdinand de.

    Cours de linguistique générale.

    Lausanne & Paris, Payot, 1916.

    First edition. In general the study of language in the 19th century concerns philology. While great steps were made at the beginning of that century to put the study of language on a scientific basis, the vital distinction was not made between philology and non-historical linguistics. Saussure made...

    £575

  9. MULERIUS, Carolus.

    Les nouveaux rudimens de la langue latine ...

    Paris, the widow of Claude Thiboust, and Pierre Esclassan, 1683.

    ‘Sixth edition’ of this popular manual of Latin grammar for French students, also called the ‘Rudiments de Ferrand’ after the name of the dedicatee, Antoine-François Ferrand.

    £450

  10. [PRIMER.] 

    Abbecedario per imparar facilmente a sillabicare, coll’aggiunta di varie orazioni ad uso delle scuole. 

    Turin, Giacinto Marietti, [c. 1840?]. 

    A seemingly unrecorded Torino-printed primer, with a series of syllabised phrases on devotion and morality. 

    £400

  11. [BERKENHOUT, John].

    Clavis anglica Linguæ botanicæ; or, a botanical Lexicon; in which the Terms of Botany, particularly those...

    London: Printed for the Author. Sold by T. Becket, and A. de Hondt … and Mess. Hawes, Clarke, and Collins … 1764.

    First edition, dedicated to John Hope of the University of Edinburgh, and written with the assistance of Arthur Lee of Virginia, winner of the Hope Medal in 1763.

    £325

  12. BARONE, Giuseppe.

    IA-Z Pam, le baton du muet, (traduit du chinois)... extrait du muséon.

    Louvain, Ch. Peeters, 1882.

    First separate edition, rare (apparently one other copy known), almost certainly printed for presentation, of this transliteration of a Chinese play with parallel French translation, which first appeared in the French journal Muséon. Barone’s article seeks to introduce a French audience to the great...

    £250

  13. LINDSETH, Jon A., and Alan TANNENBAUM, eds.

    Alice in a World of Wonderlands: the Translations of Lewis Carroll’s Masterpiece.

    Newcastle, DE, Oak Knoll Press, 2015.

    This is the most extensive analysis ever done of translations of any single English language novel. On 4 October 1866 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson/Lewis Carroll wrote to his publisher Macmillan stating "Friends here [in Oxford] seem to think that the book is untranslatable." But his friends were wrong, as...

    £199

  14. MACFARLANE, Patrick.

    A new and copious English and Gaelic Vocabulary, with the different Parts of Speech; in alphabetical Order....

    Edinburgh: Printed [by R. Menzies] for the Author, and Sold by A. Constable and Co. Edinburgh. 1815.

    First edition of this early English-Gaelic dictionary. The English-Gaelic Vocabulary was published alone, as here, at 5s.6d., or together with the Gaelic-English part at 12s.6d. The Gaelic scholar complied it because the ‘want of an English and Gaelic Vocabulary has long been a desideratum...

    £175