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. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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    Unpublished seventeenth-century Italian poem in sixteen cantos in ottava rima.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

  4. CHRISTENING (The).

    A satirical Poem. In which are contain’d the humorous Transactions, Speeches, and Behaviour of the Guests...

    London: Printed by W. James … 1732.

    First edition of an amusing verse satire on a famous court scandal. In 1732 Anne Vane, mistress of Frederick, Prince of Wales, gave birth to a son. The child, Cornwall Fitz-Frederick, was acknowledged as his, perhaps only as an assertion of his independence from his parents, and paternity was contested...

    £2000

  5. CLEVELAND, John.

    Clievelandi Vindiciae: or, Clieveland’s Genuine Poems, Orations, Epistles, &c. purged from the many false and...

    London, Printed for Robert Harford ... 1677.

    First edition, the issue with Robert Harford’s imprint. This ‘vindicatory’ text was prepared by Cleveland’s former students John Lake and Samuel Drake from authentic manuscripts to restore true readings to poems that had degenerated through six editions of The Character of a London-Diurnall...

    £950

  6. 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

  7. COLERIDGE, S[amuel] T[aylor].

    Poems … second Edition. To which are now added Poems by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd …

    Printed by N. Biggs for J. Cottle, Bristol, and Messrs. Robinsons, London. 1797.

    Second edition of Poems on Various Subjects, 1796, but in large measure a new work, with a third of the former volume omitted and replaced by new material, including the fine ‘Ode on the departing Year’. Thirty-six lines are added to the ‘Monody on the Death of Chatterton’ and other poems are...

    £1200

  8. COLERIDGE, S[amuel] T[aylor].

    The Watchman. No. I [III, IV]. Tuesday, March 1 [17, 25], 1796. Published by the Author …

    Bristol: and sold by the Booksellers and Newscarriers in Town and Country.

    Three (of ten) issues of The Watchman, Coleridge’s first journalistic endeavour, very rare: published in March to May 1796.

    £750

  9. [COLERIDGE, Samuel Taylor, and Robert SOUTHEY.]

    The Devil’s walk; a poem. By Professor Porson. Edited with a biographical...

    London, Marsh and Miller ... and Constable and Co. Edinburgh, [1830].

    First separate edition, first issue with pages 21 and 22 omitted in the pagination. In its earliest form the poem appeared (anonymously) in the Morning Post for 6 September 1799 as ‘The Devil’s Thoughts’. Shelley published a response and continuation in 1812, The Devil's Walk:...

    £350

  10. COLLECTION (A)

    of Poems: viz. the Temple of Death: by the Marquis of Normanby with several Original Poems, never before printed,...

    London: Printed for Daniel Brown … and Benjamin Tooke … 1701.

    Fourth edition of the important ‘Temple of Death’ miscellany of Restoration poetry, retaining most of the poems from the third edition (1693) and adding much material, including all the poems on pp. 172-282 – with contributions from Stepney, Arwaker and Congreve – and the poems at the end (pp....

    £500

  11. COLLUTHUS, of Lycopolis.

    The Rape of Helen. Translated from the Greek ... And illustrated with the Notes of Michael Nicander. To...

    London: Printed for and sold by J. Roberts … and by the Booksellers and Pamphletsellers of London, 1731.

    First and only edition, rare, of this translation of Collothus’s Rape of Helen (Αρπαγη Ελενης), ‘a short and charming miniature epic’ (Cambridge Companion to the Epic) written in the late fifth century in Egypt in 392 hexameters.

    £1200

  12. [COMMONPLACE BOOK.]

    A manuscript collection of poems and epitaphs.

    Yorkshire, c. 1823-6?

    An attractive but anonymous commonplace book collecting poems (some possibly original), epitaphs (mostly with a Yorkshire origin), and popular ballads, with a possibly original poem inserted on a loose leaf.

    £650

  13. [COOPER, Elizabeth, compiler].

    The Historical and Poetical Medley: or Muses Library; being a choice and faithful Collection of...

    London: Printed for T. Davies … 1738.

    First edition under this title, a reissue of The Muses Library (1737), with a cancel title-page and final leaf. After Elizabeth Cooper’s career as an actor and playwright had been brought to an end by Walpole’s Licensing Act, she set about compiling an anthology of English poetry, from Langland...

    £450

  14. COTTON, Charles.

    Poems on several Occasions …

    London, Printed for Tho. Basset … Will. Hensman and Tho. Fox … 1689.

    First edition of the principal collection of original poetry by Charles Cotton, an ‘oddly isolated and under-valued poet ... there is more and better poetry in the 1689 volume than is to be found in any other minor poet of the Restoration’ (James Sutherland, Restoration Literature). Cotton’s most...

    £600

  15. [COWPER, Ashley, editor].

    The Norfolk poetical Miscellany. To which are added some select Essays and Letters in Prose. Never printed...

    London: Printed for the Author, and sold by J. Stagg … 1744.

    First edition. This lively miscellany, containing a large number of amusing short poems (but nothing for the libertine), was assembled by William Cowper’s uncle, the father of Theodora, later Lady Hesketh, with whom the poet fell in love. The dedication to the young Lady Caroline [Cowper] is subscribed...

    £1250

  16. DEGUERLE, Jean Nicolas Marie.

    Les amours.

    Paris, Maison and Pigoreau, An V [1797-8].

    An apparently unrecorded collection of verses inspired by the Augustan poets by the French poet, translator, and educator Jean Nicolas Marie Deguerle (1766 – 1824).

    £385

  17. DENHAM, Sir John.

    Poems and Translations, with The Sophy ... .

    London, Printed for H. Herringman ... 1668

    First edition, the definitive collection, published the year before the author’s death, containing 25 pieces, fourteen of them new. It begins with Denham’s famous topographical poem, Cooper’s Hill. The bawdy ‘Dialogue between Sir John Pooley and Mr. Thomas Killigrew’, about Killigrew’s...

    £1100

  18. DENNIS, John.

    The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry, contain’d in some new Discoveries never made before, requisite for the Writing...

    London, Printed for Geo. Strahan … and Bernard Lintott … 1704.

    First edition. Published as a ‘preliminary’ to a proposed, but never completed, masterwork, The Grounds of Criticism in Poetry comprises a Preface, Proposal and ‘Specimen’, the latter being an essay substantially on Milton, ‘one of the greatest and most daring Genius’s that has appear’d...

    £1250

  19. DENNIS, John.

    An Essay on the Genius and Writings of Shakespear: with some Letters of Criticism to the Spectator … London: Printed...

    London, 1704-1716.

    First editions of Dennis and Sewell, later edition of Gay with cancel title-page.

    £1250

  20. DIBDIN, C[harles], the younger.

    Mirth and Metre: consisting of Poems, serious, humorous, and satirical; Songs, Sonnets, Ballads,...

    London: Printed for Vernor, Hood, and Sharpe ... by W. Wilson. 1807

    First edition of the first collection of verse by the manager of Sadler’s Wells, including a section of songs from his ‘most approved’ pantomimes and ‘scenic’ productions. The ticket of a Newark bookseller makes it likely that the stamp ‘Newstead’ refers to Byron’s ancestral home, Newstead...

    £225