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. MARKHAM, Gervase.

    Cavalarice, or the English Horseman: Contayning all the Art of Horse-manship, asmuch as is necessary for any...

    London, Edward Allde for Edward White, [1616–] 1617.

    A beautiful copy of the second edition, ‘corrected and augmented’, of Markham’s Cavalarice, exceptionally well-preserved in a contemporary binding, from the library of the antiquary Sir John Marsham.


  2. SCHÜBLER, Johann Jakob.

    Amor, vehementer quidem flagrans; artificiose tamen celatus, de Pantalonis custodiaque triumphans, intentato...

    Augsburg, Johann Michael Probst, [c. 1770?].

    Rare series of twelve engravings inspired by the Italian commedia dell’arte, one of the most beautiful books of the German Rococo, engraved by Johann Balthasar Probst after original illustrations by the architectural painter, sculptor, and mathematician Johann Jakob Schübler.


  3. SHARPHAM, Edward. 

    Cupids whirligig.  As it hath bene Sundrie times acted, by the Children of his Majesties Revels. 

    London, Tho: Creede, and Ber: Alsop, and are to be solde by Arthur Johnson, 1616. 

    Third edition of an early Jacobean comedy based upon a tale in Boccaccio’s Decameron, with a contemporary London setting.


  4. GALLICO, Paul.

    An archive of thirty-four scrapbooks compiled by Gallico.


    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,...


  5. NABBES, Thomas. 

    Microcosmus.  A Morall Maske, presented with generall liking, at the private House in Salisbury Court, and heere...

    London, Printed by Richard Oulton for Charles Greene … 1637. 

    First edition of an allegorical morality play (the Elements, the Senses, Love, Fear, Hope, Melancholy, et al.) which ‘may be the first English masque presented in a theatre with moveable scenery’ (Pforzheimer Catalogue).


  6. MARKHAM, Gervase, and William SAMPSON.

    The True Tragedy of Herod and Antipater: with the Death of Fair Marriam ... as it hath...

    London Printed by G. Eld, for Mathew Rhodes ... 1622.

    First and only edition, first issue, of an uncommon play, first written by Markham before 1613 and later revised with Sampson’s help.



    The Lives of the noble Grecians and Romanes, compared together by that grave learned Philosopher and Historiographer,...

    Imprinted at London by Richard Field for Bonham Norton, 1595.

    Second edition of North’s celebrated translation of Plutarch, first published in 1579, which has long been recognized as a major source for Shakespeare, providing not only the historical framework for Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus, but ‘long...



    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.


  9. [MAGRATH, Cornelius.]

    ‘Ein Irländer Riss …’

    Nuremberg, 1756.

    A delightful promotional image for the Continental tour of ‘The Irish Giant’ Cornelius Magrath (1736/7–1760), ‘To be seen in Nuremberg in the month of July 1756’.


  10. 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.


  11. 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...


  12. SENECA, Lucius Anneus. 

    Tragoediae pristinae integritati restitutae, per exactissimi judicii viros post Avantium & Philologum … 

    Paris, Badius Ascensius, 1514. 

    First edition edited by Erasmus and Badius Ascensius, a landmark in the history of Seneca’s textual tradition.  This key work, the product of a collaboration between two wholly committed humanists, cannot have been accomplished without some friction: Erasmus had allowed Badius to make use of...


  13. SHAKESPEARE, [William]. 

    The Works of Shakespeare, the text of the First Folio with Quarto variants and a selection of modern...

    [Cambridge, University Press for] The Nonesuch Press, and New York, Random House, 1929 [– 1933]. 

    First Nonesuch edition, number 220 of 1600 copies, not only handsomely printed and bound but also an important scholarly edition, collating the texts of the First Folio against variants in preceding quarto editions. 


  14. 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’...


  15. [SHEFFIELD, John, Earl of Mulgrave, afterwards Duke of Buckingham.]

    An Essay on Poetry.

    London, Printed for Joseph Hindmarsh … 1682.

    First edition, a verse satire in imitation of Horace’s Ars Poetica. There are indirect attacks on Rochester (‘Bawdry barefac’d, that poor pretence to Wit’), and Cowley, who has poetic fury but ‘ill expression’, while Sheffield reserves praise for Dryden, who took the blame for...



    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.


  17. SOPHOCLES. POUND, Ezra, translator.

    Women of Trachis. A Version by Ezra Pound.

    London, Neville Spearman, [1956].

    First edition, inscribed by the editor Denis Goacher ‘For Geoffrey [Bridson]: Nov. ’56 / This milestone / Just missed witnessing / The total collapse of / D. G.’ – Bridson had co-produced the play for BBC radio in April 1954.


  18. SHAKESPEARE, William, and Boris Leonidovich PASTERNAK, translator.

    Otello, venetsianskii mavr. Perevod s angliiskogo...

    Moscow, Ogiz, 1945.

    First edition of Pasternak’s translation. ‘Pasternak was attached to Shakespeare for all his creative life. In his best early verse collection My Sister Life (pub. 1922), the poem “English Lessons” featured Desdemona and Ophelia “letting their passions slip from their shoulders...


  19. THOMAS, Dylan, and Sir Peter Blake, illustrator.

    Under Milk Wood: A Play for Voices.

    London: Apple Litho (Bristol) Ltd. for Enitharmon Editions and Queen Anne Press, 2013.

    De Luxe edition, number 61 of 100 copies with a signed print by Blake. This finely-produced edition was published to mark the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth and celebrates the culmination of over twenty-five years of work by Peter Blake, one of the founding fathers of British Pop Art. The...


  20. SHAKESPEARE, William; Mihály VÖRÖSMARTY, translator.

    Lear Király …

    Pest, Landerer & Heckenastn, 1856.

    First edition of the first translation of King Lear into Hungarian.