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. DONNE, John.

    Poems … with Elegies on the Authors Death …

    London. Printed by M. F. for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1633.

    First edition of what may arguably be called the greatest poetical collection of the seventeenth century. This is the issue (precedence not established, but presumably the first) without the inserted leaves 2A2 (‘The Printer to the Understanders’ and ‘Hexastichon Bibliopolae’) and with Nn1 in...

    £15000

  2. COWPER, William.

    Poems … London: printed for J. Johnson … 1782. [With:]

    _________. The Task, a Poem, in six Books...

    London, 1782-5.

    First edition of each volume, with the notoriously rare suppressed preface by John Newton.

    £8000

  3. DRYDEN, John, and John BLOW.

    An Ode, on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell; late Servant to his Majesty, and Organist of the Chapel...

    London: Printed by J. Heptinstall, for Henry Playford, at his Shop … or at his House … 1696.

    First edition of Dryden’s moving elegy to his friend Purcell. The musical setting by Blow, for flutes and two counter-tenors, is generally considered his finest work.

    £6500

  4. TYRTAEUS and CALLINUS.

    Les chants...traduits en vers par Firmin Didot.

    Paris, Firmin Didot, pere et fils, 1827.

    One of only 100 copies - all hors de commerce - of this deluxe folio Didot edition of some of the oldest martial elegy verses of the Western tradition: the surviving works of the Spartan poet Tyrtaeus and the Ephesian poet Callinus (7th-6th century BC). The text is preceded by an engraved Lettre to Firmin...

    £6000

  5. CHAUCER, Geoffrey.

    The Workes of our ancient and learned English Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, newly printed. To that which was done...

    London, Printed by Adam Islip. An. Dom. 1602.

    Second Thomas Speght edition (sixth collected edition), revised much for the better by Francis Thynne; this is the variant with Adam Islip rather than George Bishop in the imprint. The portrait of Chaucer, which first appeared in the Speght edition of 1598, is the first engraved representation of the poet.

    £6000

  6. SHELLEY, Percy Bysshe.

    The Cenci. A Tragedy, in five Acts ...

    Italy. Printed for C. and J. Ollier ... London. 1819.

    First edition, one of only 250 copies printed for Shelley at Livorno (Leghorn) and then sent to Ollier, his publishers, for sale in London. Shelley arranged for the printing himself, as he told Peacock, because in Italy ‘it costs, with all duties and freightage, about half of what it would cost in...

    £5750

  7. WORDSWORTH, William [and Samuel Taylor COLERIDGE].

    Lyrical Ballads, with other Poems. In two volumes … second Edition. London:...

    by Biggs and Co. Bristol. 1800.

    Second, definitive, and first complete edition of Lyrical Ballads. To volume I (first published at Bristol in 1798, reissued in London in the same year) Wordsworth added his famous preface, the manifesto of the Romantic movement – calling for, among other things, a poetry of ‘common life’, adopting...

    £5000

  8. JONES, Mary.

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse …

    Oxford Printed; and delivered by Mr. Dodsley …, Mr. Clements in Oxford, and Mr. Frederick in Bath. 1750.

    First edition, printed on ‘royal’ paper; a subscriber’s copy, from the library of Edward Popham of Littlecote, with later Popham bookplate and label.

    £4500

  9. DONNE, John.

    Poems … with Elegies on the authors Death …

    London, Printed by M. F. for John Marriot, and are to be sold at his Shop … 1635.

    Second edition, adding seventeen new poems by Donne (and eleven false attributions), and three more elegies on his death. The poems have been rearranged into sections, headed ‘Songs and Sonets’, ‘Elegies’, ‘Epithalamions’. ‘Satyres’, and ‘Letters’, ‘Divine Poems’, etc. Two poems...

    £4500

  10. SHERBURNE, Sir Edward.

    Salmacis, Lyrian & Sylvia, Forsaken Lydia, the Rape of Helen, a Comment thereon, with severall other Poems...

    London, Printed by W. Hunt, for Thomas Dring ... 1651.

    First edition of a charming book of Caroline poetry, original and translated, in a most sympathetic and well-preserved collector’s binding. This is the first issue; it was reissued in the same year under the title Poems and Translations, amorous, lusory, morall, divine, reflecting the divisional titles...

    £4250

  11. FAWKES, Francis, and William WOTY.

    The Poetical Calendar. Containing a Collection of scarce and valuable Pieces of Poetry …

    London, Printed by J. Dryden Leach for J. Coote … 1763.

    First edition. Volume XI (November) includes the first publication of the collected verse of William Collins. Samuel Johnson provided most of the account of Collins which appears in the volume for December and was later reprinted in The Lives of the Poets. Boswell thought it ‘one of the...

    £3750

  12. FULLER, Thomas.

    Davids hainous Sinne. Heartie Repentance. Heavie Punishment …

    London, Printed by Tho. Cotes, for John Bellamie … 1631.

    First and only edition of Fuller’s first book, and his only volume of verse. It is a three-part poem written in a variation of rhyme royal, recounting King David’s adultery with Bathsheba and its consequences.

    £3750

  13. 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

  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. WILLIAMS, Anna.

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse …

    London: Printed for T. Davies … 1766.

    First edition, scarce, of the blind poet Anna Williams’s Miscellanies, bound with the first edition of a volume of fifty Latin poems by Samuel Bishop.

    £3250

  16. WITHER, George.

    The Psalmes of David translated into Lyrick-Verse, according to the Scope, of the Original, and illustrated, with...

    [Amsterdam:] Imprinted in the Netherlands by Cornelis Gerrits van Breughel, 1632.

    First edition, dedicated to Princess Elizabeth, the ‘Winter Queen’, daughter of James I. The translation, a companion to Wither’s Hymnes and Songs of the Church, was written at the request of James, and finished shortly before his death in 1625: ‘I was commanded to perfect a Translation...

    £3200

  17. WORDSWORTH, William.

    Lyrical Ballads, with a Pastoral and other Poems, in two Volumes … Third Edition.

    London: Printed for T. N. Longman and O. Rees … by Riggs and Cottle …. 1802.

    Second complete edition, with the Preface much enlarged and a new ‘Appendix’ on poetic diction (pp. 237-247 in volume II), one of the key theoretical texts of English Romanticism. For this edition, two poems were omitted, Coleridge’s ‘The Dungeon’ and Wordsworth’s ‘A Character’, several...

    £3000

  18. BLACKMORE, Richard.

    Prince Arthur. An Heroick Poem. In Ten Books … London: Printed for Awnsham and John Churchil … 1695. [With:]...

    London, 1695-97.

    First edition of Blackmore’s first epic poem, with the first edition of its sequel – John Evelyn’s copies, with shelfmarks ‘E5:1’ and ‘E5:2’ in his hand, Prince Arthur additionally inscribed ‘Catalogo Evelini Inscriptus / Meliora Retinete’ (Evelyn’s motto: ‘Keep the best’).

    £2750

  19. 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

  20. POPE, Alexander.

    Windsor-Forest. To the Right Honourable George Lord Lansdown …

    London: Printed for Bernard Lintott … 1713.

    First edition of Pope’s second separately published poem, preceded by An Essay on Criticism in 1711. Written in the tradition that young poets begin with pastoral verse, Windsor-Forest, with its epigraph from Virgil’s Eclogues, was the poem that first won Swift’s regard and...

    £2750