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. [PUSHKIN, Aleksandr Sergeevich (contributor).]

    Сѣверные цвѣты на 1825 годъ [Severnye tsvety na 1825...

    St Petersburg, Department of Public Education, 1825 [Moscow, Universitetskaia tip., 1881].

    Rare nineteenth-century Moscow reprint of the exceptionally rare first issue of Northern flowers, one of the most celebrated Russian literary anthologies, edited by Pushkin’s great friend Delvig. The 1825 issue included the first appearance of four passages from part ii of Eugene...

    £1750

  2. GAY, John.

    Achilles. An Opera. As it is perform’d at the Theatre-Royal in Covent Garden ... with the Musick prefix’d to each Song.

    London: Printed for J. Watts ... 1733.

    First edition of Gay’s last ballad opera; he was arranging for its production at the time of his death. The work is a farcical burlesque of classical myth, in which Achilles, dressed as a woman, is admitted to the court of Lycomedes, who falls in love with him while he in turn is trying to woo...

    £400

  3. [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

  4. 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

  5. [POETRY.]

    Anthology of manuscript floriographic poetry.

    June 1853.

    A collection of twenty-six apparently unpublished poems in manuscript, presented as an alphabetical acrostic. The poems express the perfection and the language of flowers – that is, the meaning embodied by each variety. Examples given here include ox-eye for patience, quince blossom for temptation,...

    £250

  6. HOMERIC HYMN (THE)

    to Aphrodite. A New Translation by F. L. Lucas, fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. With ten Engravings by...

    Printed in Great Britain at the Golden Cockerel Press, 1948.

    First edition, No. 308 of 750 copies. Cockalorum 177.

    £225

  7. HOGG, John.

    Autograph poetical manuscript, apparently unpublished, comprising a preface dated 3 April 1825 and some forty long poems.

    [London, 1825-7].

    A fascinating volume of manuscript verse by an otherwise unknown poetaster, probably based in Southwark. In his grandiloquent Preface, Hogg explains that his poems are designed to excite in the reader the pleasurable contemplation of heaven, via ‘the Study of Nature’ and of our souls. ‘Celestial...

    £1350

  8. TENNYSON, Alfred, Lord.

    Ballads and other Poems.

    London: C. Kegan Paul & Co. … 1880.

    First edition. Wise, Tennyson 138; Tinker 2093.

    £75

  9. MARKISH, Peretz Davidovich.

    Brat’ia [Brothers].

    Moscow, Goslitizdat, 1935.

    First edition in Russian of Markish’s epic poem Brider (Brothers, Kiev, 1929), an optimistic work glorifying the Communist regime. The editor is Grigory Petnikov, and the translators D. Brodsky, V. Bugaevsky, S. Lipkin, Maria Petrova, A. Tarkovsky, N. Ushakov, A. Shteinberg and A. Shpirt.

    £1200

  10. LLOYD, Mary.

    Brighton a Poem. Descriptive of the Place and Parts adjacent. And other Poems …

    London: Printed for the Author. Sold by J. Harding … and by all the Booksellers at Brighton, Worthing, and Eastborne. 1809.

    First and only edition of Mary Lloyd’s paean to the attractions of ‘Beauty, and fashion’s ever favourite seat’. The poem vividly portrays Brighton’s dazzling social round: the races, dances at the Assembly Rooms, plays at the theatre, and acrobatic shows at the circus. Particular attention...

    £350

  11. HAYWARD, Thomas.

    The British Muse, or, a Collection of Thoughts moral, natural, and sublime, of our English Poets: who flourished...

    London, Printed for F. Cogan … and J. Nourse … 1738.

    First edition of this interesting antiquarian miscellany of literary extracts. The subjects, arranged alphabetically, range from ‘Abbeys’ to ‘Youth’ via ‘Abstinence’, ‘Hypocrite’ ‘Mediocrity’ ‘Rebellion’ ‘Self-Murder’, and ‘Travel’. The authors quoted include Beaumont,...

    £575

  12. CHIESA, Sebastiano.

    Capitolo fratesco.

    [Italy, probably Emilia, seventeenth century.]

    Unpublished seventeenth-century Italian poem in sixteen cantos in ottava rima. Sebastiano Chiesa’s Capitolo fratesco, or dei frati according to other sources, was apparently entrusted by the dying author to a friend, and enjoyed wide circulation and acclaim in manuscript...

    £1750

  13. MADELENET, Gabriel.

    Carminum libellus. Parisiis, apud Claudium Cramoisy... M. DC. LXII.

    Paris, 1662.

    First edition, the author’s only book, edited after his death by Loménie de Brienne, this copy ruled in red and bound for the editor with his arms.

    £2250

  14. [HABINGTON, William].

    Castara … the second Edition. Corrected and augmented.

    London, Printed by B. A. & T. F. for Will: Cooke, and are to bee sold at his Shop … 1635.

    Second edition, adding to the contents of the first edition (1634) a commendatory poem that reveals Habington’s identity; a ‘second part’ with twenty-six new poems; and three prose characters: ‘A Mistris’ and ‘A Wife’ to introduce the two parts, and ‘A Friend’ to introduce the section...

    £3500

  15. [HABINGTON, William].

    Castara … the third Edition. Corrected and augmented.

    London, Printed by T. Cotes, for Will. Cooke: and are to be sold at his Shop … 1640.

    First complete edition. The first two parts were published in 1634 and 1635-6. The third part (pp. 167-228) appears here for the first time, and turns from love to religious reflection. Where the first two parts had expressed their dominant themes (courtship and married love) with the prose characters...

    £2500

  16. OSCAR WILDE: A Man for Our Times.

    A Catalogue of Selected Items from the Collection of Jeremy Mason. By Jeremy Mason, edited by...

    London, Bonhams, 2021.

    “He belongs to our world more than to Victoria’s. Now, beyond the reach of scandal, his best writings validated by time, he comes before us still, a towering figure, laughing and weeping, with parables and paradoxes, so generous, so amusing, and so right.” Richard Ellmann, Oscar Wilde.

    £20

  17. FREEMAN, Arthur.

    Catullus Carmen 17.6 and Other Mysteries. A Study in Editorial Conflict, Eccentricity, Forgery, and Restitution....

    London, The Author, 2020.

    This partly historical, partly philological essay offers a general account of the early preservation, post-medieval recovery, and Renaissance evolution of the text of Catullus, with specific reference to one speculative reading in Carmen 17 (‘De Colonia’), and certain humanist twists and forgeries...

    £15

  18. [MORGAN, Macnamara].

    The Causidicade. A Panegyri-Satiri-Serio-Comic-Dramatical Poem. On the strange Resignation, and stranger-Promotion....

    London: Printed for M. Cooper … 1743

    First edition, a verse satire on the sudden resignation as solicitor-general of Sir John Strange, one of the ‘old corps’ who still supported Walpole after his fall, and the appointment as his successor of William Murray, a member of the Duke of Newcastle’s circle. There is a satirical ‘Dramatis...

    £125

  19. COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor.

    Christabel: Kubla Khan, a Vision; the Pains of Sleep …

    Printed for John Murray … by William Bulmer … 1816.

    First edition of all three celebrated poems.

    £1000

  20. FLETCHER, Giles, the younger.

    Christs Victorie, and Triumph in Heaven, and Earth, over, and after Death …

    Cambridge, Printed by C. Legge. 1610.

    First edition of an important poem, a ‘worthy link’ in the chain which connects Fletcher’s great master, Spenser, with his great successor, Milton (Hugh de Selincourt, CHEL). This is the first state, with a fleur-de-lis device on the title-pages – three copies are known with the title-pages reset...

    £3500