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. HALLAM, Arthur Henry.

    Remains, in Verse and Prose …

    [London,] Printed by W. Nicol … 1834.

    First edition, a presentation copy from the editor, the historian Henry Hallam, to his late son’s friend and fellow Cambridge ‘Apostle’ James Spedding. The prefatory memoir by Hallam senior includes a long letter from Spedding (‘one of his most valued friends’) written in tribute to...


  2. [HANKEY, Katherine.]

    The old, old Story, in two Parts: Part I. The Story wanted; Part II. The Story told.

    London, William Macintosh, 1871.

    ‘545th thousand’ of an abridged Christian catechism in verse, by the missionary Hankey. The advertisements on the final page offer the same work in a halfpenny edition, an edition with musical notation, a German version, and an edition in William Moon’s type for the blind. The work was also published...


  3. HAYWARD, Thomas.

    The British Muse, or, a Collection of Thoughts moral, natural, and sublime, of our English Poets: who flourished...

    London, Printed for F. Cogan … and J. Nourse … 1738.

    First edition of this interesting antiquarian miscellany of literary extracts. The subjects, arranged alphabetically, range from ‘Abbeys’ to ‘Youth’ via ‘Abstinence’, ‘Hypocrite’ ‘Mediocrity’ ‘Rebellion’ ‘Self-Murder’, and ‘Travel’. The authors quoted include Beaumont,...


  4. HAY, William.

    Mount Caburn. A Poem. Humbly inscribed to Her Grace the Dutchess of Newcastle …

    London: Printed for J. Stagg … 1730.

    First edition. Hay’s only original poetic composition, Mount Caburn is a celebration of his native Sussex, historical, antiquarian and archaeological, as viewed from a hill fort on the South Downs near Lewes. The poem is dedicated to Henrietta Pelham-Holles, wife of the secretary of state, hinting...


  5. HEADLEY, Henry, editor.

    Select Beauties of ancient English Poetry …

    London, Printed for T. Cadell … 1787.

    First edition. This important miscellany – which would have been continued had not the young editor died in 1788 at the age of twenty-three – explores some of the byways of Elizabethan and early Stuart poetry. After a long introductory appreciation with biographical sketches of the poets, the verse...


  6. HOGG, John.

    Autograph poetical manuscript, apparently unpublished, comprising a preface dated 3 April 1825 and some forty long poems.

    [London, 1825-7].

    A fascinating volume of manuscript verse by an otherwise unknown poetaster, probably based in Southwark. In his grandiloquent Preface, Hogg explains that his poems are designed to excite in the reader the pleasurable contemplation of heaven, via ‘the Study of Nature’ and of our souls. ‘Celestial...


  7. [HOLLINGSWORTH, Nathaniel John.]

    Fleurs. A poem, in four books.

    Newcastle, printed for the author by Edw. Walker …, 1821.

    First and only edition of this long blank verse description of Floors Castle, the seat of the Duke of Roxburgh near Kelso in south-east Scotland. The castle was built by the leading Scottish architect of his day, William Adam, father of Robert Adam, for the 1st Duke of Roxburgh between 1721-1726. Hollingsworth’s...



    to Aphrodite. A New Translation by F. L. Lucas, fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. With ten Engravings by...

    Printed in Great Britain at the Golden Cockerel Press, 1948.

    First edition, No. 308 of 750 copies. Cockalorum 177.


  9. HORACE.

    Opera omnia.

    Paris, A. Mesnier [printed by Didot fils with the type cut by Henri Didot], 1828.

    A scarce Miniature Book. “One of the typographical wonders and an unsurpassed feat as far as minuteness and beauty of type is concerned” (Spielmann 201).


  10. HUGHES, John.

    Poems on several Occasions. With some select Essays in Prose. In two Volumes …

    London: Printed for J. Tonson and J. Watts. 1735.

    First edition of the principal collection of the author’s works, published posthumously and edited, with a long biographical preface, by his brother-in-law, William Duncombe. John Hughes (1677-1720) was educated at a dissenting academy where Isaac Watts was his contemporary. From an early age he devoted...


  11. HUGHES, Langston and BONTEMPS, Arna (edit.); ZHANG QI (transl.).

    Hei ren shi xuan [The poetry of the Negro].

    Beijing, Renmin wenxue chubanshe, 1959.

    Very rare second edition (first edition 1957) of the Chinese translation of The poetry of the Negro, 1746 – 1949, an anthology of poems by African American writers first published in the United States in 1949 and including, amongst others, George Moses Horton, James Weldon Johnson, Paul Lawrence...



    A sacred Dialogue ...

    Dublin: Printed and sold by Oliver Nelson ... 1751.

    First edition, dedicated to Frederick, Prince of Wales, as Chancellor of Trinity College. This is the story from the Gospel of Luke that tells how, after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared two of his followers who were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. It takes the form of a dialogue between Cleopas and...


  13. KIPLING, Rudyard.


    Garden City, New York, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1917.

    American copyright edition. A poem lamenting the losses of the First World War and calling for justice against the military and political leaders whose decisions and actions sent so many to their death.


  14. KIPLING, Rudyard.


    Garden City, New York, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919.

    American copyright edition. In this poem, Kipling casts the recently deceased Theodore Roosevelt as the character Great-Heart from A Pilgrim’s Progress.


  15. LAMB, Charles.

    John Woodvil a Tragedy ... to which are added, Fragments of Burton, the Author of the Anatomy of Melancholy.

    London: Printed by T. Plummer ... for G. and J. Robinson ... 1802.

    First edition. John Woodvil was Charles Lamb’s first play (or dramatic poem), regarded by him at one time as his ‘finest effort’, a ‘medley (as I intend it to be a medley) of laughter and tears, prose and verse, and in some places rhyme, songs, wit, pathos, humour, and, if possible, sublimity’...


  16. LA SERRIE, François-Joseph de.

    Dithyrambes, ou petites élégies; dédiées à Madame Le Pédour, Annette-Sergent Pain (de Rochefort);...

    Nantes, chez Brun, 1816.

    Very rare first edition of this collection of twenty-one elegies composed by the writer, artist and engraver François-Joseph de La Serrie (1770–1819), largely inspired by the deaths of his two daughters Marie Louise Aspasie, who died aged 15 in 1812, and Marie Rosalie-Cecile Virginie, who passed...


  17. LEWIS, Matthew Gregory.

    Tales of Wonder; written and collected by M. G. Lewis ... in two Volumes.

    London: Printed by W. Bulmer ... for the Author ... and sold by J. Bell. 1801.

    First edition. Because of the lavish format and high publication price (one guinea) the wits nicknamed this ‘Tales of Plunder’. Three ballads by Walter Scott first appear here: ‘The Fire-King’, ‘Glenfinlas’, and ‘Frederick and Alice’ (a free translation from Goethe), as well as a revised...


  18. LLOYD, Mary.

    Brighton a Poem. Descriptive of the Place and Parts adjacent. And other Poems …

    London: Printed for the Author. Sold by J. Harding … and by all the Booksellers at Brighton, Worthing, and Eastborne. 1809.

    First and only edition of Mary Lloyd’s paean to the attractions of ‘Beauty, and fashion’s ever favourite seat’. The poem vividly portrays Brighton’s dazzling social round: the races, dances at the Assembly Rooms, plays at the theatre, and acrobatic shows at the circus. Particular attention...


  19. [LOVELACE, Richard.]

    Lucasta. Posthume Poems …

    London. Printed by William Godbid for Clement Darby. 1659

    First edition, a wholly different work from Lucasta 1649, published by the poet’s brother Dudley Posthumus Lovelace, with ‘Elegies sacred to the Memory of the Author’ at the end.


  20. LUFFMAN, John.

    The Ministers. The Words by John Luffman. –– Tune, Ally Croker …

    Engrav’d & publishd (sic) Feby 14. 1800 by J. Luffman, Sweeting’s Alley, Royal Exchange

    Sole edition, six six-line stanzas by the engraver, author and goldsmith John Luffman (fl. 1776-1820), beginning ‘Inspire my Muse, propitious Gods! Do list to my invoking’.