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. DAVENANT, Sir William.

    Gondibert: an Heroick Poem ...

    London, Printed for John Holden ... 1651.

    Second (first octavo) edition, first issue, preserving the cancelland V8.



    Selections of classic Italian Poetry from the most celebrated Works of Tasso, Ariosto, Dante, & Petrarch, for...

    London: G. and W. B. Whittaker; Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor and Lepard; Dulau and Co.; J. Booker; and Boosey and Sons. 1820.

    First edition of this attractive Italian reader, with the Italian text in English word order subjoined to each passage, and notes in English on meaning, irregular diction, etc. where needed. The well-chosen selections from classic authors include the episode of Armida e Rinaldo from Gerusalemme Liberata,...


  3. 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...


  4. 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...


  5. 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.


  6. DENNIS, John.

    The select Works … in two Volumes … London, Printed by John Darby … 1718. [With:]


    London, 1718-1720.

    First editions. Dennis, best known for his critical writings, was also a poet and a moderately successful author of plays, and all three genres are represented in his Select Works, including his tragedies Iphigenia and Appius and Virginia, and his influential essay The Grounds...


  7. 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...


  8. [DODSLEY, Robert].

    A Collection of Poems. By several Hands. In three Volumes. London: Printed for R. Dodsley … 1748.

    London, Dodsley, 1748-49-58.

    First edition of each volume of 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...


  9. [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’....


  10. 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...


  11. 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...


  12. [DRUMMOND.]

    Memorial to William Drummond of Hawthornden.

    Edinburgh: Privately Printed 1894

    First edition. The poet William Drummond died in 1649 but his burial place in the family mausoleum at Lasswade, near Hawthornden, was unmarked until a memorial committee under the chairmanship of Viscount Melville commissioned a medallion portrait in bronze set in a slab of carved freestone to be affixed...


  13. [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...


  14. 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...


  15. 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...


  16. 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.


  17. 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).


  18. 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...


  19. [D’URFEY, Thomas].

    Butler’s Ghost: or Hudibras. The Fourth Part. With Reflections upon these Times …

    London, Printed for Joseph Hindmarsh … 1682.

    First edition of D’Urfey’s sequel to Samuel Butler’s burlesque poem Hudibras, the most celebrated satire of the seventeenth century, published in three parts in 1663-78. Written in hudibrastic metre, the two cantos of Butler’s Ghost follow the progress of Butler’s eponymous hero from an interrupted...


  20. ELIOT, Thomas Stearns.

    Prufrock and Other Observations.

    London: The Egoist Ltd, 1917.

    First edition. One of 500 copies printed. In 1917 the Egoist Press offered – at the price of one shilling – what the advertisement described as ‘a small book of Poems’ by Mr. T. S. Eliot, with the intriguing (if obscure) title, Prufrock and Other Observations. ‘And there’, wrote critic Christopher...