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. 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).


  2. 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...


  3. 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’,...


  5. 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.


  6. 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...



    Decimus Junius Juvenalis, and Aulus Persius Flaccus translated and illustrated, as...

    Oxford, Printed by W. Downing, for F. Oxlad senior, J. Adams, and F. Oxlad junior. Anno Dom. 1673.

    First edition, posthumous, of Holyday’s Juvenal, with a reprint of his Persius (Oxford, 1616). This sumptuous volume was edited by Holyday’s step-son, W. Dewy, with learned and discursive annotations which are in turn illustrated by engravings, mainly of classical antiquities, but also of plants,...


  9. 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’...


  10. 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.


  11. 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...


  12. 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...


  13. LOVELACE, Richard.

    Lucasta: Epodes, Odes, Sonnets, Songs, &c. To which is added Aramantha, a Pastorall …

    London, Printed by Tho. Harper, and are to be sold by Tho. Evvster … 1649

    First edition of one of the great collections of seventeenth-century English poetry, and the only collection published in the author’s lifetime. This copy has the earlier state of B2, with ‘Warres’ (rather than ‘Wars’) in the heading of the well-known ‘Song … To Lucasta on going to the...


  14. [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.


  15. LUCK, Robert.

    A Miscellany of new Poems, on several Occasions … Containing also, The Loves of Hero and Leander, translated from...

    London: Printed by Edward Cave … for the Author, and Subscribers. 1736.

    First edition, a ‘mixed issue’ with quotations on the title-page and errata on the half-title but without the added leaf of Oxford subscribers (clearly unnecessary for a Devonshire subscriber). Pope subscribed for two copies (there are complimentary verses ‘On Mr. Pope’s Translation of Homer’).


  16. 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’.


  17. MADELENET, Gabriel.

    Carminum libellus. Parisiis, apud Claudium Cramoisy... M. DC. LXII.

    Paris, 1662.

    First edition, the author’s only book, edited after his death by Loménie de Brienne, this copy ruled in red and bound for the editor with his arms.


  18. MARKISH, Peretz Davidovich.

    Brat’ia [Brothers].

    Moscow, Goslitizdat, 1935.

    First edition in Russian of Markish’s epic poem Brider (Brothers, Kiev, 1929), an optimistic work glorifying the Communist regime. The editor is Grigory Petnikov, and the translators D. Brodsky, V. Bugaevsky, S. Lipkin, Maria Petrova, A. Tarkovsky, N. Ushakov, A. Shteinberg and A. Shpirt.


  19. MAY, Thomas.

    The Reigne of King Henry the Second, written in seaven Bookes. By His Majesties Command.

    London: Printed by A. M. and John Beale for Benjamin Fisher … 1633.

    First edition of a verse history dedicated to Charles I. May’s literary career had begun with his translation of Lucan’s strongly anti-imperial Pharsalia (1626-7), which also influenced several of his stage tragedies. But his republicanism was muted thereafter, and indeed his Continuation...


  20. MEREDITH, George.

    Poems …

    London: John W. Parker and Son … [1851].

    First edition of Meredith’s first book, which he brought out at his ‘own risk, losing £50 or £60 on the venture’. ‘Not surprisingly he acquired a strong distate for what he later regarded as juvenilia with direct relationship to his first marriage’ (Collie), and there is some suggestion that...