Foreign Literature

Contact Donovan Rees or Joanna Skeels

This department specialises in rare and important works of French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and South American literature from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Here you can find first editions and signed or presentation copies of authors as diverse as Akhmatova, Balzac, Borges, Camus, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Goethe, Goldoni, Hugo, Kafka, Leopardi, Lorca, Manzoni, Pirandello, Pushkin, Schiller, Tolstoy, Zola, and many others. Among the important works which have passed through our hands are the original working manuscript of Turgenev's Fathers and Sons, now in the Pushkin House in St Petersburg, the only known copy of the first edition of Brecht's first play, Baal (1920) with his working notes, and an extraordinary collection of Pushkin first editions.
  1. TOLMACHEV, Iakov Vasil’evich.

    Frantsuzskaia grammatika, razpolozhennaia legchaishim sposobom, s prisovokupleniem khrestomafii...

    Moscow, University Press, 1809.

    First edition, rare. The polyglot academic Iakov Tolmachev (1779–1873) published his highly successful French grammar the year he arrived in St Petersburg from Ukraine, where he grew up. Other editions came out in 1814, 1819, and 1827.

    £2800

  2. [TOULOUSE-LAUTREC, Henri de, illustrator]. MARSOLLEAU, Louis, and Arthur BYL.

    Hors les lois. Comédie en un acte, en vers …

    Paris, P.-V. Stock (formerly Tresse & Stock), 1898.

    First (and only) edition. Toulouse-Lautrec was commissioned by André Antoine to create a design for the play’s premiere on 5 November 1897 at the Théâtre Antoine. It represents actors, in full period costume, mingling with theatre-goers during the interval.

    £750

  3. TYRTAEUS and CALLINUS.

    Les chants...traduits en vers par Firmin Didot.

    Paris, Firmin Didot, pere et fils, 1827.

    One of only 100 copies - all hors de commerce - of this deluxe folio Didot edition of some of the oldest martial elegy verses of the Western tradition: the surviving works of the Spartan poet Tyrtaeus and the Ephesian poet Callinus (7th-6th century BC). The text is preceded by an engraved Lettre to Firmin...

    £6000

  4. VILLEHARDOUIN, Geoffroy de (Charles du Fresne DU CANGE, editor).

    Histoire de l’empire de Constantinople sous les empereurs françois,...

    Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1657.

    First collected edition, comprising the third edition of Villehardouin’s chronicle, edited and translated by Du Cange, and the first edition of Du Cange’s history of the Latin empire in the Levant. The original and modern French versions of Villehardouin’s chronicle are printed on opposite pages....

    £1400

  5. VOLTAIRE, François Marie Arouet de.

    Le Brutus de Monsieur de Voltaire, avec un Discours sur la Tragédie.

    Paris, J. F. Josse, 1731.

    First edition. Voltaire wrote the first act of his play Brutus in English during his 1726-29 visit to England while staying at Wandsworth with Fawkener, and finished the play in French in Paris. It was first performed in Paris on 11 December 1730 when its portrayal of tension between patriotism and love...

    £850