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. KINNAIRD, Douglas.

    The Merchant of Bruges; or, Beggar’s Bush. With considerable Alterations and Additions. Now performing, with...

    London: Printed for Whittingham and Arliss ... 1815

    First edition of the only literary work by the intimate friend and banker of Lord Byron, who dedicated Hebrew Melodies to him in 1815. The play was produced at Drury Lane where both served on the Committee, dedicated to Lady Caroline Lamb’s brother-in-law (who contributed three songs), and has...


  2. [LAFONT, Joseph de.]

    Hypermnestre, tragedie, mise au theatre de l’Academie Royale de Musique de Lyon, pour la prémière fois...

    Lyon, de l’imprimerie d’Aymé Delaroche ... aux dépens de l’Académie Royale de Musique, 1742.

    Very scarce Lyon edition of the libretto for the tragedy Hypermnestre by the French playwright Joseph de Lafont (1686-1725). First performed in 1716, with music by Charles-Hubert Gervais, the play was initially criticised for its fifth act, but after rewriting by abbé Simon-Joseph Pellegrin enjoyed...


  3. 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’...


  4. [LANDOR, Walter Savage].

    Count Julian: a Tragedy.

    London: Printed for John Murray … by James Moyes … 1812.

    First edition of Landor’s first play, unacted, but a succès d’éstime, published in ‘a small edition’ (Oxford DNB). The episode in Spanish history which it treats – the vengeance taken by Don Julián, 8th-century ruler of Ceuta, against Roderigo, King of the Goths, who has dishonoured...


  5. LEWIS, Wyndham.

    The Lion and the Fox. The Role of the Hero in the Plays of Shakespeare …

    London, Methuen & Co. Ltd., [1955.]

    Reprint of the second edition of Lewis’s ‘first political book’, a collection of essays engaging with Shakespeare and Machiavelli first published in 1927 and then reissued by Methuen in 1951; inscribed in a very shaky hand ‘To Geoffrey Bridson from Wyndham / Oct 1956’.


  6. MADDEN, Dodgson Hamilton.

    The Diary of Master William Silence: A Study of Shakespeare & of Elizabethan Sport.

    London, New York, & Bombay, Longmans, Green, & Co., 1897.

    First edition of Madden’s reimagination of Elizabethan sport, derived from passages from Shakespeare. Though a legal writer and prominent jurist, being appointed attorney-general of Ireland in 1889, the best known publication of Dodgson Hamilton Madden (1840–1928) remains the Diary of Master...


  7. [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’.


  8. 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.


  9. 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.


  10. MARTIN, Theodore, Sir.

    Horace and his Friends. Two Lectures delivered at the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution …

    Printed for private Circulation. 1881.

    First editions of two privately-printed pamphlets by the poet, translator and biographer Theodore Martin (1816–1909) – presentation copies, to the Scottish journalist John Skelton, a frequent contributor to Blackwood’s Magazine (as was Martin).


  11. MORTON, Thomas.

    Secrets worth knowing; a Comedy, in five Acts. As performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden …

    London: Printed for T. N. Longman … 1798.

    First edition of a comedy by the prolific dramatist Thomas Morton (first issue, with the epilogue beigging on F4 and four rather than five pages of ads). A prodigal son conceals his marriage to ensure his legacy, with unfortunate consueqences; it was ‘in some parts ludicrous and bordering on the improbable...


  12. 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).


  13. NADAL, [Augustin,] Abbé

    Herode: Tragedie nouvelle. 

    Paris, Pierre Ribou, 1709. 

    First edition of Nadal’s tragedy on King Herod, the second in the series of Biblical plays over which he quarrelled with Voltaire. 


  14. PASQUIN, Anthony [i.e. John WILLIAMS].

    The Eccentricities of John Edwin, Comedian. Collected from his Manuscripts, and enriched...

    London, Printed for J. Strahan … [1791].

    First edition of the earliest biography of the actor and singer John Edwin the elder (1749-1790), written by his friend, John Williams, journalist and author of the satirical collection of verse portraits The Children of Thespis (1786). Williams published both works under the pseudonym ‘Anthony Pasquin’...


  15. PLAUTUS. 

    M. Accius Plautus ex fide, atque auctoritate complurium librorum manuscriptorum opera Dionys. Lambini Monstroliensis...

    Paris, Jean Le Blanc for Jean Macé, 1577 [– October 1576].

    Reissue of the 1576 first edition of the plays of Plautus edited by the great French classical scholar Denis Lambin (1520–1572) and completed after his death by the Parisian professor of Greek, Jacques Hélie (d. 1590). 



    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...


  17. POUND, Ezra, and Ernest FENELLOSA.

    Introduzione ai Nô, con un drama in un atto di Motokiyo: Kagekiyo.

    Milan, All’insegna del pesce d’oro [Scheiwiller], [1958].

    Third edition, translations of Pound’s ‘Introduction’ and one play from Certain Noble Plays of Japan by his daughter Mary de Rachewiltz. This third edition added ‘Un intervallo di 40 anni’ by Pound, dated November 1958.


  18. RICHARDSON, Joseph.

    The Fugitive: a Comedy. As it is performed at the King’s Theatre, Haymarket …

    London: Printed for J. Debrett … 1792.

    First edition of the first play by Sheridan’s friend, the writer and politican Joseph Richardson, proprietor of the Morning Post and later of the Drury Lane Theatre (by 1796 he had a £12,000 stake); this is the second issue, with sheets K-M reset to add extra dialogue to Act V, scene I.


  19. SCARRON, Paul. 

    Le Marquis ridicule, ou la comtesse faite à la haste.  Comedie … Suivant la copie imprimée a Paris. 

    [Leiden, Elzevier], 1656. 

    First Elzevier editions, very rare, of these two plays by Scarron, pirated after the text of the first editions printed in Paris.  A finely bound volume with excellent Elzevierian provenance. 


  20. 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.