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. [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...


  2. 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...


  3. 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.


  4. 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,...


  5. 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...


  6. 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...


  7. 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...


  8. 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...


  9. 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...


  10. [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.


  12. 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).


  13. 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...


  14. HUGHES, Terence McMahon.

    The ocean flower; a poem. Preceded by an historical and descriptive account of the island of Madeira,...

    London, Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1845.

    First edition of this scarce poem on Madeira in ten cantos. Hughes (1812–1849) was born in Newry, County Down and was for some time a foreign correspondent for The Morning Chronicle.



    A dramatic Satire, as acted every Day at White’s and other Coffee-Houses and Assemblies … London: Printed...

    London: Printed for J. Roberts … 1743

    First edition of an amusing skit on Edmond Hoyle’s recently-published Short Treatise on the Game of Whist (1742) with its elaborate promises of ‘calculations, directing with moral certainty, how to play well any hand or game, by shewing the chances of your partner’s having 1, 2, or 3 certain cards’,...


  16. JOHNSON, Samuel.

    The Lives of the most eminent English Poets; with critical Observations on their Works … in four Volumes …

    London: Printed for C. Bathurst [and 35 others] … 1781.

    First separate edition of the biographical and critical prefaces which Johnson had contributed to the 68 volumes of the Works of the English Poets in 1779 81, a project commissioned by the long list of booksellers who appear as partners in the imprint here.


  17. JONES, Mary.

    Miscellanies in Prose and Verse …

    Oxford Printed; and delivered by Mr. Dodsley …, Mr. Clements in Oxford, and Mr. Frederick in Bath. 1750.

    First edition, printed on ‘royal’ paper; a subscriber’s copy, from the library of Edward Popham of Littlecote, with later Popham bookplate and label.



    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...


  19. 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’...


  20. LAMB, Charles.

    The Works … in two Volumes …

    London: Printed for C. and J. Ollier … 1818.

    First edition, dedicated to ‘my dear Coleridge’: a selection of poems, essays and letters, as well as John Woodvil and Rosamund Gray. There are also five poems by Charles’s sister Mary.