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.
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...
[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’....
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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).
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
Poems on several Occasions. Volume the First [– Second].
London: Printed for Jacob Tonson ... and Bernard Lintot ... 1720.
First collected edition of Gay’s poems, including Rural Sports, The Fan, The Shepherd’s Week, Trivia, his play The What d’ye call it, and most of his occasional poems, several of which appear here for the first time, as does his pastoral tragedy, Dione. Among...
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 Deidamia....
[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...
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...
GREVILLE, Fulke, Baron Brooke.
Certaine Learned and Elegant Workes of the Right Honorable Fulke, Lord Brooke, written in his Youth,...
London: Printed by E. P. for Henry Seyle ... 1633.
First edition. This is the definitive printing of the poems and plays of an attractive minor Elizabethan – the ‘Servant to Queen Elizabeth, Councillor to King James, Friend to Sir Philip Sidney’ (to quote his epitaph). Like Sidney, Greville never published his poetry in his lifetime; and, apart...
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...