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. MEREDITH, George.

    Modern Love, and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads.

    London: Chapman & Hall, 1862.

    First edition of a major Victorian collection of poems. The title poem, a daring and innovative work for its day, adapts the sonnet sequence tradition (though in poems of sixteen lines) to the emotional realities of a failed contemporary marriage, tracing the course of estrangement as love gives way...


  2. MILTON, John.

    Paraphrasis poetica in tria Johannis Miltoni … Poemata, viz Paradisum amissum, Paradisum recuperatum, et Samsonem...

    Londini, Typis Johannis Darby … 1690.

    First edition, a Latin verse paraphrase of Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes by the Scottish neo-Latin poet William Hog (or Hogg), a prolific author of translations, Biblical paraphrases, and commemorative verse. Hog is best remembered for the notoriety that William...


  3. MILTON, John. Paolo ROLLI, translator.

    Del Paradiso perduto Poema inglese.

    Londra, Presso Carlo Bennet, 1736.

    First edition of the first complete Italian translation of Milton’s Paradise Lost, the second issue, with a cancel title-page dated 1736 and further enumerating Rolli’s academic titles. Rolli started to work on this translation in 1719, publishing the first six books in London in 1729. Still...


  4. [MORGAN, Macnamara].

    The Causidicade. A Panegyri-Satiri-Serio-Comic-Dramatical Poem. On the strange Resignation, and stranger-Promotion....

    London: Printed for M. Cooper … 1743

    First edition, a verse satire on the sudden resignation as solicitor-general of Sir John Strange, one of the ‘old corps’ who still supported Walpole after his fall, and the appointment as his successor of William Murray, a member of the Duke of Newcastle’s circle. There is a satirical ‘Dramatis...


  5. [MUNDY, Francis].

    The Fall of Needwood.

    Derby: Printed at the Office of J. Drewry. 1808.

    First edition.


  6. NEW PLAN (A)

    to save the State. Addressed to the Ladies. By a Gentleman of the University of Cambridge.

    London, Printed for the Author, and sold by J. Dodsley … and Messrs T. and J. Merril, at Cambridge. 1779.

    First edition, a scarce anonymous plea against vice, in verse. Beset by both the Americans and the French (‘ere one enemy’s subdu’d / Another thirsts for English blood’), England is in need of a reformation of manners, to be led by womankind:


  7. NORRIS, John.

    A Collection of Miscellanies: consisting of Poems, Essays, Discourses, and Letters, occasionally written …

    Oxford, Printed at the Theater for John Crosley Bookseller, 1687.

    First edition: the most enduring of Norris’s books, containing ‘all the [early] writings that he considered to be worth preserving’, and ‘almost all of Norris’s poetry’ (Oxford DNB). The book is dedicated to Leopold-William Finch, the warden of All Souls where Norris was a fellow.


  8. OVERBURY, Sir Thomas.

    Sir Thomas Overbury His Wife. With Additions of new Characters, and many other Witty Conceits never before...

    London, Printed by John Haviland, for A. Crooke … 1638.

    Sixteenth edition of the most popular character book of the early seventeenth century.


  9. OWEN, John.

    John Owen’s Epigrams for Prince Henry. The Text of the Presentation Manuscript in the Library of Trinity College...

    Douglas, Isle of Man, published by Bernard Quaritch Ltd., 2012.

    Printed here for the first time is the text of an autograph manuscript of the epigrams which John Owen presented to Prince Henry, eldest son of James VI of Scotland (I of England), on the occasion of his becoming Prince of Wales in 1610 (this year is the 400th anniversary of his death). The small quarto,...


  10. PARADIN, Guillaume.

    Gulielmi Paradini Anchemani Epigrammata ...

    Lyons, Ant. Gryphius, 1581.

    First and only edition of this French historian’s poetry including verses about or addressed to Ronsard, Pontus de Tyard, Claude Rouillet, and the Lyons printers Sébastien and Antoine Gryphe, and Jean de Tournes.


  11. PEACOCK, Thomas Love.

    Rhododaphne: or the Thessalian Spell. A Poem.

    London: Printed for T. Hookham, Jun. … and Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy ... 1818.

    First edition. A mythological narrative set in ancient Thessaly, Rhododaphne tells the story of the shepherd boy Anthemion, in love with the mortal girl Calliroë, and of the nymph Rhododaphne, who carries him off to her enchanted palace. When Rhododaphne is destroyed by Heavenly or Uranian love...


  12. [PEMBERTON, Henry].

    Observations on Poetry, especially the epic: occasioned by the late Poem upon Leonidas.

    London: Printed by H. Woodfall. Sold by J. Brotherton … J. Nourse … and T. Dodsley … 1738.

    First edition, a piece of literary criticism inspired by Richard Glover’s long poem Leonidas (1737), ‘a high-minded epic on the virtuous resistance by the Spartan king (perhaps an optimistic portrait of Frederick [Prince of Wales]) to the effeminate and treacherous Persian army’ (Oxford...


  13. [PERCY, Thomas].

    Reliques of Ancient English Poetry: consisting of old heroic Ballads, Songs, and other Pieces of our earlier Poets...

    London: Printed for J. Dodsley ... 1767

    Second edition (revised). Percy kept emending the first edition as it was in the press, and he continued to revise the second edition and the third (1775). The revisions here include both corrections and ‘such further Illustrations as had either occurred to himself or his friends; he hath given a new...


  14. [PHILIPS, John].

    Cyder. A Poem. In two Books …

    London: Printed for Jacob Tonson … 1708.

    First edition, first issue, on fine (but not large) paper. Though Williams suggests that ordinary paper copies belong to a first issue, and fine paper copies to a corrected second issue, both Hayward and Rothschild concur that both paper sizes exist in corrected and uncorrected states. The present copy...


  15. PICKERING, Amelia.

    The Sorrows of Werter: a Poem …

    London: Printed for T. Cadell … 1786

    First edition. Amelia Pickering’s ‘melancholy, contemplative poem’ (Todd) was one of a spate of works in English and German founded on Goethe’s novel, including poems by Charlotte Smith and Mary Robinson, both subscribers here. Pickering ‘gives to Charlotte a voice, if rather weakly moralistic,...



    or, a Collection of excellent new Ballads …

    London, Printed in the Year 1715.

    First edition of a collection of 63 recent political ballads, some by celebrated authors, some anonymous, printed ‘in the Order in which they came out’. Of the two London editions printed in 1715 this is the first – the two lines of errata on p. xii are omitted in the other edition, with the errors...


  17. PLUCHE, Noël-Antoine.

    The History of the Heavens, considered according to the Notions of the Poets and Philosophers, compared...

    London: Printed [by Samuel Richardson] for J. Osborn … and sold by C. Rivington, C. Davis, T. Longman, T. Astley, S. Austin [and eight others...

    First edition in English of Histoire du ciel consideré selon les idées des poëts, des philosophes, et de Moïse (Paris, 1739).



    from the Time of Oliver Cromwell, to the Abdication of K. James the Second. Written by the greatest...

    Printed in the Year 1702

    Fourth edition of this popular collection of witty verse and political satire, with the second edition of State-Poems continued (1697). Much of the poetry collected here was initially circulated in manuscript because of its political subject matter (which includes the Dutch wars, the Popish Plot, and...


  19. [POETRY.]

    Anthology of manuscript floriographic poetry,

    dated June 1853.

    A collection of twenty-six apparently unpublished poems in manuscript, presented as an alphabetical acrostic. The poems express the perfection and the language of flowers – that is, the meaning embodied by each variety. Examples given here include ox-eye for patience, quince blossom for temptation,...