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. [ALMANAC.]

    Le Parnasse des dames.

    Paris, Janet, [1814].

    An attractive copy of Janet’s Parnasse des dames, a pocket-book alamanac on art and literature aimed at a female readership. The little volume contains a broad miscellany of verse, some by female authors, prefaced by engraved copies of works by seventeenth-century French and Dutch painters...

    £325

  2. ALMEIDA, Theodoro de.

    Lisboa destruida poema, author o P. Theodoro de Almeida, da Congregaçaõ do Oratorio de Lisboa.

    Lisbon, Antonio Rodrigues Galhardo, 1803.

    First edition of this poem in six cantos, with extensive notes, on the disastrous 1755 Lisbon earthquake, by the Oratorian priest and philosopher Almeida (1722-1804). One of the deadliest in history, the earthquake almost totally destroyed the Portuguese capital and accentuated political tensions within...

    £400

  3. A[RNOLD, Matthew].

    The Strayed Reveller, and other Poems. By A.

    London: B. Fellowes …1849

    First edition of Arnold’s first book, apart from the Rugby and Oxford prize poems Alaric at Rome and Cromwell. To conceal his authorship as ‘A.’ suggests a certain reticence about the volume, even though it contains a number of his finest early poems, including ‘The Forsaken Merman’. Only 500...

    £600

  4. AUDEN, W.H. Collected poems.

    Edited by Edward Mendelson.

    London, Faber and Faber, 1976.

    First edition. Denis Healey’s copy, with his signature dated 1976 to front free endpaper, his occasional marginal pencil marks, and a few notes to rear pastedown. Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey (1917-2015) served as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970, Chancellor of the Exchequer from...

    £75

  5. BEAUMONT, Joseph.

    Psyche: or Loves Mysterie in XX. Canto’s: displaying the Intercourse between Christ and the Soule …

    London, Printed by John Dawson for George Boddington … 1648.

    First edition. Beaumont was one of the royalist fellows ejected from Cambridge in 1644, and he devoted his enforced retirement to the composition of this poem, a ‘religious epic’ representing ‘a Soule led by divine Grace, and her Guardian Angel ... through the difficult Temptations and Assaults...

    £1250

  6. BELVIDERE (The):

    a Poem. Inscrib’d to Joseph Grove, Esq. of Richmond, in the County of Surrey …

    London: Printed in the Year 1749.

    First edition, rare (British Library and Yale only) of a very attractive description in verse of a country estate in Richmond. The first pages offer a prospect of the garden with its flowers and shrubs, shaded walks and arbours, a bower with the escutcheon over the door of the late Sir William Humble,...

    £2750

  7. BROME, Alexander.

    Songs and other Poems … The second Edition corrected and enlarged.

    London, Printed for Henry Brome … 1664.

    Second edition, adding much new material including the poems ‘To his friend Thomas Stanley Esq. on his Odes’, ‘Cromwell’s Panegyrick’, and the salacious ‘Record in Rhyme’; eight songs; and some new commendatory verses in addition to the one by Isaak Walton. Also new is a commendatory letter...

    £500

  8. BROWNING, Elizabeth Barrett.

    Poems before Congress …

    London: Chapman and Hall … 1860.

    First edition of a slender collection of seven poems on the cause of Italian independence, and one attacking slavery in the United States (‘A Curse for a Nation’). The Congress of the title had been planned for Paris in January 1860, but Austria withdrew on learning that Napoleon III meant to use...

    £200

  9. [BROWN or BROWNE, Nicholas].

    The North-Country-Wedding, and the Fire, two Poems in blank Verse …

    Dublin: Printed by A. Rhames, for J. Hyde, Bookseller … 1722.

    First and only edition, rare, of the only published work by the Fermanagh-born poet and clergyman Nicholas Brown (1699-1734), misattributed by ESTC to his father. Both pieces are burlesques in the manner of Philips’s The Splendid Shilling, but have their own merit, and were reprinted by Matthew...

    £1250

  10. BUQUOY, Georg Franz August de Longueval, Freiherr von Vaux, Graf von.

    Anregungen für philosophisch-wissenschaftliche Forschung...

    Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel, 1825.

    First edition, rare, of a comprehensive discussion by the author of his personal philosophy, with c. 50 pages of his poetry thrown in at the end for good measure. Samuel Hahnemann refers to the work in Die chronischen Krankheiten (1828–30), calling Buquoy a ‘deep-thinking, many-sided scholar and...

    £950

  11. BYRON, George Gordon, Lord.

    Poems original and translated … Second Edition.

    Newark: Printed and sold by S. and J. Ridge; sold also by B. Crosby and Co … Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme … F. & C. Rivington … and...

    Unacknowledged reprint of the ‘second’ [i.e. first] edition of Poems original and translated, printed by Ridge without Byron’s permission. As the first printing ran out Ridge told Byron that he had reprinted some sheets to make up a few more copies; in fact he was to continue to reprint...

    £550

  12. [BYRON, George Gordon, Lord].

    Lara, a Tale. [and] Jacqueline, a Tale [by Samuel Rogers].

    London: Printed for John Murray … 1814.

    First edition, Randolph’s fourth variant (with the crooked roman numeral on p. 82 and the fallen period on p. 20). By 1814 Byron was heavily pressed by debts, having previously refused payment for his poems. For Lara, the fourth of Byron’s Levantine poems, published on the back of The Corsair...

    £400

  13. CAREY, Henry.

    Poems on several Occasions … Third Edition, much enlarged.

    London: Printed by E. Say, 1729.

    ‘Third edition’, in fact a substantially different work from the two rare (and much less substantial) pamphlet collections of 1713 and 1720. This copy has a single-leaf ‘Additional List of Subscribers’ bound before the main text and not recorded in ESTC.

    £650

  14. CARROLL, Lewis [i.e. Charles Lutwidge DODGSON].

    Useful and Instructive Poetry. With an Introduction by Derek Hudson.

    London, Butler & Tanner Ltd for Geffrey Bles, 1954.

    First edition. Useful and Instructive Poetry was Lewis Carroll’s first book, composed in 1845 (when its author was thirteen) and written out for his siblings Wilfred Longley Dodgson and Louisa Fletcher Dodgson. It was the first in a series of family magazines and was inspired in part by W.M....

    £100

  15. CARROLL, Lewis [i.e. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson].

    The hunting of the Snark. An agony in eight fits ... with nine illustrations by...

    London, Macmillan and Co., 1876.

    First edition of this characteristically dark nonsense poem, dedicated to Gertrude Chataway, Carroll’s dearest child friend after Alice. The Easter greeting was inserted into every copy of the first edition after printing at Carroll’s own expense.

    £650

  16. CARTWRIGHT, William.

    Comedies, Tragi-comedies, with other Poems … the Ayres and Songs set by Mr Henry Lawes, Servant to his late...

    London, Printed for Humphrey Moseley … 1651.

    First edition of the witty and elegant drama and verse of a celebrated ‘son of Ben’, who said ‘My son Cartwright writes like a man’. According to Evelyn, Charles I reckoned The Royall Slave ‘the best that was ever acted’ after he saw it as the main entertainment on the royal progress...

    £1750

  17. [CASTILLO Y SORIANO, José del.]

    Amor á la creacion. Poesia dedicada á la Sociedad Madrileña Protectora de los Animales y de...

    Madrid, Sociedad de Tipógrafos, 1879.

    Very rare survival: a poem in twenty-four stanzas each of five lines devoted to the celebration of animals and plants, dedicated to the Madrid Society for the protection of nature, and publicly read by the actress Carolina Civili on the occasion of the May 1879 exhibition of plants and birds....

    £500

  18. C., E. H.

    On the occasion of a Bazaar held in aid of Funds required for the Completion of the first English Church at Dinan, which...

    [Dinan, 1869?]

    ‘A Church Bazaar takes place to-day, / And for all aid we humbly pray / Tho’ many have giv’n with liberal hands, / A heavy debt against us stands ....’ Dinan, in Britanny, was popular with English visitors for health or leisure, according to the poem, and for many years English services had been...

    £100

  19. CHALKHILL, John.

    Thealma and Clearchus. A pastoral History in smooth and easie Verse. Written long since by John Chalkhill, Esq;...

    London: Printed for Benj. Tooke … 1683.

    First edition, with the corrected state of the title, designating Chalkhill as ‘an acquaintant and friend of Edmund [originally ‘Edward’] Spencer’.

    £1850

  20. CHAMBERLAYNE, William.

    Phraronnida: a heroick Poem …

    London, Printed for Robert Clavell … 1659.

    First edition of the physician-poet William Chamberlayne’s best-known work, a long poem (14,000 lines) in heroic couplets blending Ariosto, Tasso and Greek romances. It deals with the tale of Argalia, a sort of knight errant rescued from the Turks and threatened with execution, and his love for Pharonnida,...

    £2500