English Literature

Contact Donovan Rees

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. ALFIERI, Vittorio. LLOYD, Charles, translator.

    The Tragedies of Vittorio Alfieri; translated from the Italian … In three Volumes …

    London: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown … 1815.

    First edition of this translation, which Lloyd undertook ‘on the suggestion of a friend whose judgement I highly respect’. This friend was likely Southey, who he addresses as his ‘sponsor’ in the ‘Dedicatory Sonnet’. He held Southey in high esteem, and benefited from his friendship through...

    £450

  2. ARISTOPHANES.

    The Birds … Translated by the Rev. Henry Francis Cary … With Notes.

    London: Printed for Taylor and Hessey … 1824.

    First edition. ‘Given how much there is in Aristophanes to outrage and violate nineteenth-century manners and sensibilities, it may seem surprising how popular he was. The popularity came at the price of bowdlerizing much of the “grossness”, but there was admiration and even a certain yearning...

    £350

  3. ARISTOPHANES.

    Aristophanis comicorum principis Comoediae undecim, e graeco in latinum ad verbu[m] translatae Andreae Divo Iustinopolitano...

    Venice, 1542 [colophon: apud D. Jacob a Burgofrancho papiensem, 1538].

    First collected Latin edition of Aristophanes, translated from the Greek by Andrea Divo.

    £1200

  4. AUDEN, Wystan Hugh, and Christopher ISHERWOOD.

    The Dog beneath the Skin or where is Francis? A Play in three Acts.

    London, Faber and Faber Limited, [1954].

    Sixth impression. When Bridson had reviewed the play on its first publication in 1935 (along with two other works), he thought it ‘very good fun … as slick, symbolical and smart-Alecky as The Orators’, though the versification of the choruses was ‘on the slack side’. In 1965 Bridson...

    £100

  5. AUDEN, Wystan Hugh, and Chester KALLMAN.

    The Magic Flute.

    London, Faber & Faber, [1957].

    First UK edition. Auden composed his translation of the Magic Flute libretto in 1956, in honour of the bicentenary of Mozart’s birth, working in conjunction with his friend and erstwhile lover, the American translator and librettist Chester Kallman (1921–1975). The dialogue is written in...

    £125

  6. BARTOLI, Adolfo.

    Scenari inediti della Commedia dell’arte. Contributo alla storia del teatro popolare italiano.

    Florence, Sansoni, 1880.

    Rare first edition, one of only 350 copies, of a foundational source for the study of Commedia dell’Arte. The exceptionally well-loved and widely-performed form of drama is the subject of the author’s pioneering study: he examines tropes, characters, plots, structures and lines of ‘scenarios’...

    £500

  7. BECQUE, Henry.

    Les Corbeaux, pièce en quatre actes.

    Paris, Tresse, [1882].

    First and second editions of Becque’s innovative realist drama, inscribed by the author on the first half-title to ‘mon cher [Jules-Charles] Truffier’, with authorial marks and annotations on thirty-three pages in the second edition showing changes made for performance.

    £2000

  8. BERNIER DE MALIGNY, Aristippe-Félix. 

    Art du comédien.  Principes généraux.  Recueillis et mis en ordre par Aristippe, 1819. 

    Paris, Louis Raymond, [1819]. 

    Very rare broadside encapsulating the ‘art of the actor’, by the thespian and theoretician Aristippe-Félix Bernier de Maligny, who would later develop his ideas further in his 1826 book Théorie de l’art du comédien. 

    £875

  9. CAREY, Henry.

    The Dramatick Works …

    London: Printed by S. Gilbert, 1743.

    First collected edition, published in the year of Carey’s death, with his final revisions, ‘not only free from the errors of false and spurious editions, published without my knowledge and consent, but (upon this occasion) revised and improv’d, even from my own original copies’.

    £650

  10. CARTWRIGHT, William.

    Comedies, Tragi-comedies, with other Poems … the Ayres and Songs set by Mr Henry Lawes, Servant to his late...

    London, Printed for Humphrey Moseley … 1651.

    First edition of the witty and elegant drama and verse of a celebrated ‘son of Ben’, who said ‘My son Cartwright writes like a man’. According to Evelyn, Charles I reckoned The Royall Slave ‘the best that was ever acted’ after he saw it as the main entertainment on the royal progress...

    £1750

  11. [COLLEGIO DEI NOBILI DI MODENA.]

    Il buon’ uso della vittoria, ossia Publio Cornelio Scipione nella nuova Cartagine: azione accademica...

    Modena, eredi di Bartolomeo Soliani, [1776].

    First edition. A scarce play with music and ballet, prepared and performed by the Collegio dei Nobili di Modena for celebrations of the birthday of Francesco III d’Este, Duke of Modena. The work comprises a play in three acts on Scipio Africanus by Alessandro Guinigi, three short ballets drawn...

    £450

  12. DAVENANT, William, Sir.

    Two excellent Plays: the Wits, a Comedie: the Platonick Lovers, a Tragi-Comedie. Both presented...

    London, Printed for G. Bedel, and T. Collins … 1665

    First collected edition of two plays first published in 1636, probably published to fill the revenue gap after the temporary closure of the theatres in 1665 because of the Plague.

    £950

  13. DAVIDSON, John.

    Smith: a Tragedy.

    Glasgow, Frederick W. Wilson and Brother, 1888.

    First edition of a rare foray into drama by a Scottish poet who influenced T.S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens. John Davidson (1857-1909) was highly regarded during his lifetime by writers like W.B. Yeats, and later by Eliot, Stevens, and Aldous Huxley. Along with Yeats, Ernest Dowson, and others,...

    £300

  14. DESFORGES, Pierre Choudard.

    Tom Jones a Londres, Comédie en cinq actes et en vers, tirée du roman de Fielding … Réprésentée,...

    Paris, Chez Prault, Imprimeur du Roi … 1789.

    Later edition, first published 1782. Desforges’s dramatic adaptation of Fielding’s novel was followed in 1788 by an apparently inferior sequel, Tom Jones et Fellamar.

    £95

  15. ETHEREGE, George.

    The comical Revenge, or Love in a Tub. Acted at his Highness the Duke of York’s Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields ...

    London, Printed for Henry Herringman ... 1669.

    Fourth edition of Etherege’s first play, preceded by two editions of 1664 and one of 1667; this is the scarcer of two printings for Herringman in 1669, with ‘fields’ rather than ‘Fields’ in the title, and the catchword ‘hope’ not ‘the’ on A2r.

    £500

  16. EURIPIDES.

    Τραγωδιαι οκτωκαίδεκα … Tragœdiæ octodecim, Hecuba, Orestes, Phœnissæ, Medea, Hippolytus,...

    Basel, apud Ioan. Hervagium ,1537.

    Second edition of the complete extant tragedies of Euripides, following the Aldine editio princeps of 1503.

    £3750

  17. GALLICO, Paul.

    An archive of thirty-four scrapbooks compiled by Gallico.

    1928–1972.

    A lovingly and meticulously compiled archive of the writing career of the novelist Paul Gallico. The scrapbooks are arranged chronologically and by book/film with letters, telegrams, publicity materials, photographs and ephemera neatly intermingled with copies of reviews and reactions from local,...

    £5500

  18. GAY, John.

    The Distress’d Wife. A Comedy. By the late Mr. Gay, Author of the Beggar’s Opera.

    London: Printed for Thomas Astley … 1743.

    First edition, the issue with no press figures on pp. 8, 39, press figure p. 56: 3 (no priority). Gay’s comedy of the sexes revolves around Sir Thomas Willit’s attempts to inveigle his wife to leave London for the country, in order to reign-in her expenditure. Lady Willit abhors the idea, ‘Sure...

    £350

  19. [JOHNSON, Charles].

    Caelia: or, the perjur’d Lover. A Play. As it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, by His Majesty’s...

    London: Printed for J. Watts … 1733.

    First edition. Caelia, Johnson’s last theatrical production, is an attack on the fashionable libertinism of the day. As the Preface explains, however, he refused to take Barton Booth’s advice and expunge the vivid brothel scenes, and a fastidious audience answered with their pockets. The play,...

    £200