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. [DODSLEY, Robert, editor].

    A Collection of Poems. By several Hands. In three Volumes.

    London: Printed for R. Dodsley … 1748.

    First edition, the most influential poetical miscellany of the eighteenth century. Dodsley’s avowed aim was ‘to preserve to the public those poetical performances, which seemed to merit a longer rememberance than what would probably be secured to them by the Manner wherein they were originally published’....

    £450

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. DONOUGHUE, A.

    An Essay on the Passions: with other Poems … Shrewsbury: Printed by T. Wood … for P. Owen … Welshpool; sold...

    Welshpool; sold by Champante and Whitrow … London, and all the Booksellers in Shrewsbury. 1799.

    First edition. ‘I have felt as many woes as ever tore the bosom of a Petrarch’, writes the author in the Preface, ‘and have struggled with as many penurious calamities as ever agonized the soul of a Chatterton; will not then a generous public pardon my presumption, when informed, that I woke my...

    £325

  5. [DRYDEN, John].

    The Medall. A Satyre against Sedition. By the Authour of Absalom and Achitophel …

    London, Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1682.

    First edition, second issue (adding two Latin lines at the end). The medal of Dryden’s satire was that struck to celebrate Shaftesbury’s acquittal from charges of high treason. According to Spence, Charles II gave Dryden ‘the hint for writing his poem’, and rewarded him for it. In reply, Shadwell...

    £750

  6. DRYDEN, John.

    Eleonora: a Panegyrical Poem: dedicated to the Memory of the late Countess of Abingdon …

    London: Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1692.

    First edition. The countess had died in May 1691, but ‘betwixt ill health, some business, and many troubles’, publication of this eulogy was delayed until March 1692 (as the Lutrell copy is dated). The poem, commissioned by the Earl of Abingdon, praises the piety and charity of its subject, its somewhat...

    £275

  7. DRYDEN, John.

    Religio Laici or a Layman’s Faith. A Poem …

    London, Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1683.

    First edition, second issue (with a few minor corrections; Macdonald located only two copies of the first): ‘a defence of the Anglican position, which shows his singular power of arguing in verse’ (Leslie Stephen, DNB). The inspiration for the poem was the translation of Richard Simon’s Histoire...

    £400

  8. [DUPONT DE NEMOURS, Pierre-Samuel and Konrad Engelbert OELSNER].

    Notice sur la vie et les écrits de M. Joël Barlow, Ministre...

    [Paris]: Smith [?for the author], 1813.

    First edition, limited to 500 copies; an association copy of this eulogy to America's National poet, Joel Barlow, gifted by his widow to Count Rumford. American businessman, diplomat, and poet Joel Barlow (1754–1812) studied at Yale, where he developed interests in poetry, moral and political...

    £600

  9. D’URFEY, Thomas.

    Wit and Mirth: or Pills to purge Melancholy; being a Collection of the best merry Ballads and Songs, old and...

    London: Printed by W. Pearson, for J. Tonson ... 1719 [-20].

    The first complete edition, second issue of volumes I-V with titles altered to the familiar Wit and Mirth from Songs Compleat, 1719 (a change at the time of the publication in 1720 of volume VI, which is always entitled Wit and Mirth).

    £2250

  10. D’URFEY, Thomas.

    The Progress of Honesty: or, a View of a Court and City. A Pindarique Poem …

    London: Printed for Joseph Hindmarsh … 1681.

    First edition of an allegorical poem inspired, like Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel, by the Exclusion Crisis of 1681. ‘Honesty’ describes to ‘Error’, ‘Faction’ and ‘Beauty’ the court of Charles II (‘Titus the Second … the joy of human kind’), and the malign effects of Treason...

    £300

  11. ERLENBACH, Jean Jacques.

    Compliment de Congé en rimes francaises, a monsieur Ziegert, sur son depart pour Halle à l’université...

    Breslau, Charles Guillaume Grass, [1754].

    Charming and apparently unrecorded poem written on the occasion of the departure for the University of Halle of an unidentified Mr Ziegert by his disgruntled friend Johan Jakob Erlenbach (who, according to a footnote, did not expect his poem to be printed).

    £150

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. GAY, John, and Gordon ROSS (illustrator).

    Rural Sports, together with the Birth of the Squire and the Hound and the...

    New York, William Edwin Rudge, 1930.

    Limited edition, numbered 94 of 200 copies for sale, signed by the artist. A handsome edition with hand-coloured illustrations by the sporting watercolourist Gordon Ross (1873–1946).

    £160

  16. [GRANVILLE, George, Baron Lansdowne].

    Poems upon several Occasions.

    London: Printed for J. Tonson … 1712.

    First edition; containing ‘all the Poems which have been written by the Right Honourable George Granville Lord Lansdown, very few of which have been ever before printed’. Granville (1666-1735) wrote his first play, The She-Gallants, at age 15, and his adaptation of Shakespeare, The Jew...

    £350

  17. GREEN, Matthew.

    The Spleen. An Epistle inscribed to his particular Friend Mr. C. J. …

    London; Printed: and sold by A. Dodd … 1737.

    First edition of Green’s best-known poem. In witty octosyllabics he describes the activities and pleasures of a rural life as the best remedy for the spleen – which at this time meant boredom and melancholy. The poem is addressed to his friend Cuthbert Jackson. It was published shortly after Green’s...

    £600

  18. [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

  19. [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

  20. HALIFAX, George Savile, Marquis of.

    Miscellanies … viz. I. Advice to a Daughter. II. The Character of a Trimmer. III. The Anatomy...

    London: Printed for Matt. Gillyflower … 1700.

    First edition, the issue without the two rows of ornaments to the title-page, and with Q4-R3 uncancelled. Defoe’s Letter to a Dissenter (first published 1688) rather than Halifax’s was printed in error on leaves Q4-R3, and these leaves are cancelled in later issues (in the present copy Q4 is torn...

    £450