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. 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...


  2. 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...


  3. FULLER, Thomas.

    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.


  4. GAY, John.

    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...


  5. 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 Deidamia....


  6. [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...


  7. 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...


  8. 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...


  9. [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...


  10. [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...


  11. 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...


  12. HARRISON, William.

    The lazy Lays, and Prose Imaginings …

    A. D. 1877 (Popular Chronology;) A. M. 5877 (Torquemada;) A. M. 50,800,077 (Huxley.) … London.

    First edition, a presentation copy, of this eccentric collection of verse and prose by the photographer, spiritualist and journalist William Henry Harrison.


  13. 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,...


  14. 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...


  15. 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...


  16. HERBERT, A.P.

    ‘Full Enjoyment’ and other verses.

    London, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1952.

    First edition of this collection of assorted verses from the satirical master, Sir Alan Patrick Herbert. A long-time occupant of parliamentary circles, Herbert was an ardent supporter of legal reform, most notably of laws on divorce and obscenity.
     The Times (14 August 1945) noted ‘his individual...


  17. HOFLAND, Barbara.

    A Season at Harrogate; in a Series of poetical Epistles, from Benjamin Blunderhead, Esquire, to his Mother, in...

    Knaresborough: Printed by G. Wilson, and sold by R. Wilson, Knaresborough, and Harrogate; Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown … London...

    First edition, a satirical poem inspired by The New Bath Guide, Christopher Anstey’s popular verse narrative of 1766. Anstey’s light mockery of Bath society had been accomplished through the eyes of a country squire, Simkin Blunderhead. In Hofland’s delightful adaptation Blunderhead’s...


  18. [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.


  20. 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).