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. LESSING, Gotthold Ephraim.

    Briefe, antiquarischen Inhalts. Erster [-Zweyter] Theil.

    Berlin, Friedrich Nikolai, 1768-9.

    First edition in book form of a collection of 57 letters which were first published in Hamburg periodicals. They were written by Lessing in reply to Adolf Klotz’s attack on his Laokoon (1766), and are both a defence of Laokoon and at the same time a counter-attack on Klotz’s own book.


  2. [HIPPEL, Theodor Gottlieb von.]

    Lebensläufe nach Aufsteigender Linie nebst Beylagen A, B, C. Meines Lebenslaufs. Erster [- Dritter]...

    Berlin, bey Christian Friedrich Voss, 1778-81.

    First edition: a whimsical, disguised autobiography by the German satirical writer Theodor Gottlieb von Hippel (1741-96), heavily influenced by Sterne. Hippel’s major work, the novel was originally intended to describe the lives of three generations (that of his grandfather, his father, and himself),...


  3. BRANDT, Johann Daniel und Georg Karl.

    Opfer de Lieb’ und Freundschaft. Dargebracht dem Konigl. Preuss. Kriegsrath Herrn herrn...

    Berlin, Wilhelm Dieterici, [1790].

    A luxurious and unusual production, both printed and bound in silk, a commemorative poem commissioned as a special birthday gift by King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia for his military adviser Friedrich Moritz Helmbrecht (1744-97).


  4. [SCHWARZ, Sophie Becker, and Elisa, Gräfin von der RECKE.]

    Elisens und Sophiens Gedichte. Herausgegeben von I[ohann] L[udwig] Schwartz.

    Berlin, Friedrich Vieweg, 1790

    First and only edition of this anthology of poems by Elisa von der Recke and Sophie Schwarz. It was the first appearance in print of Sophie Schwarz’s poems, published by her husband shortly after her death in 1789 at the age of 35, following the birth of their first child, and was intended as a memorial...


  5. SCHILLER, Johann Christoph Friedrich von (Editor).

    Musen-Almanach für das Jahr 1800.

    Tübingen, J. G. Cotta, [1799].

    First edition, rare: Schiller’s last Musen-Almanach, containing the first appearance of poems by Schiller (‘Spruch des Konfucius’, ‘Das Lied von der Glocke’), Gries, Herder, Knebel, Matthisson, and others.


  6. SCHILLER, Friedrich.

    Gedichte. Erster [-Zweyter] Theil.

    Leipzig, Siegfried Lebrecht Crusius, 1800-1803.

    First authorised edition of Schiller’s poems, following an unauthorised edition of volume 1 only which appeared earlier in 1800. Previously the poems had appeared only in almanacs and periodicals. This edition contains the first appearance in print of 10 poems. An attractive copy in contemporary red...


  7. [GOETHE.] REICHARDT, Johann Friedrich.

    Goethe’s Lieder, Oden, Balladen und Romanzen mit Musik von J. F. Reichardt. Erste [ -...

    Leipzig, Breitkopf & Härtel, [1809-11].

    Very rare first complete edition of Reichardt’s musical settings of Goethe’s poetry, comprising 128 settings of which 39 appear here for the first time.


  8. GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von.

    Die Wahlverwandtschaften. Ein Roman… Erster [-Zweyter] Theil.

    Tübingen, in der Cottaischen Buchhandlung, 1809.

    First edition of the novel which Goethe himself once called ‘mein bestes Buch’. Published when he was sixty, a year after the first complete edition of Faust, Part I, Die Wahlverwandtschaften, or Elective Affinities, has proved to be one of the most enigmatic and variously interpreted of Goethe’s works.


  9. GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von.

    Faustus: from the German of Goethe.

    London: Boosey and Sons ... and Rodwell & Martin ... 1821.

    First edition of this expanded translation of Faust (Part I), long mistakenly attributed to George Soane, but now authoritatively credited to Coleridge; issued here with the Retzsch plates which had appeared separately in 1820. ‘The most striking passages and scenes ... have been translated...


  10. MÜLLER, Wilhelm.

    MÜLLER, Wilhelm. Lieder der Griechen. 1821. Dessau, Christian Georg Ackermann, [1821]. [with:]


    Dessau and Leipzig, c.1821-25.

    First edition of the complete Lieder der Griechen, together with the second enlarged edition of Part I. Wilhelm Müller (1794-1827) is better known today as the author of Die schöne Müllerin (1821) and Die Winterreise (1824), both set to music by Schubert, but his Songs of the Greeks, inspired by his...


  11. HAMMER-PURGSTALL, Joseph, Freiherr von.

    Memnon’s Dreiklang, nachgeklungen … in Dewajani, einem indischen Schäferspiele; Anahid,...

    Vienna, J. B. Wallishauser, 1823.

    First edition of Hammer-Purgstall’s trilogy of three oriental plays rendered into German. This copy was probably intended for presentation, and is printed on Whatman-Vélin paper and bound in an attractive contemoprary oriental-style binding.


  12. TIECK, Ludwig.

    Der Aufruhr in den Cevennen. Eine Novelle in vier Abschnitten. Erster und zweiter Abschnitt (all published).

    Berlin, G. Reimer, 1826.

    First edition, rare. One of the first important German novels to be inspired by Walter Scott, and a major work of Tieck’s later years.


  13. WEBER, Karl Maria Friedrich Ernst von.

    Hinterlassene Schriften … Erster Band [Tonkünstlers Leben, eine Arabeske], Zweiter Band,...

    Dresden and Leipzig, Arnold, 1828.

    First edition of Weber’s work as novelist, critic, and music journalist; a second edition was published in 1850. The achievements Weber made in his short life (he died aged 39) tend to be overshadowed by the success of Der Freischütz (1821). But ‘to view Weber’s accomplishments primarily through...



    Lenore. Vaterländisches Schauspiel mit Gesang in drei Abtheilungen.

    Berlin, Duncker and Humblot, 1829.

    First edition of one of Holtei’s best-known plays, inspired by a ballad by Gottfried Bürger.


  15. SCHUBERT, Franz, composer.

    A fine contemporary volume of ten works containing 18 Lieder including his most famous early songs ‘Erlkönig’...

    Vienna, 1821-1833

    A rare collection of Schubert Lieder in a contemporary binding, apparently as retailed by the Czech music publisher Berra, including three first editions.


  16. GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang von, and Carl Friedrich ZELTER.

    Briefwechsel zwischen Goethe und Zelter in den Jahren 1796 bis 1832. Herausgegeben...

    Berlin, Duncker & Humblot, 1833-34.

    First edition, printed on a superior paper to the regular issue, in an attractive and well-preserved contemporary binding.


  17. HEINE, Heinrich.

    Zur Geschichte der neueren schönen Literatur in Deutschland.

    Paris & Leipzig, Heideloff und Campe, 1833.

    First edition of a work on contemporary German literature, intended as a sort of continuation of Madame de Staël’s De L’Allemagne. It first appeared as a series of articles in the Paris journal L’Europe littéraire. This first edition was banned on publication, and is very rare. A second, expanded...


  18. [ARNIM, Bettina von.]

    Goethe’s Briefwechsel mit einem Kinde. Seinem Denkmal. Erster [-zweiter] Theil. [Theil III: Tagebuch.]

    Berlin, Ferdinand Dümmler, 1835.

    First edition of Bettina von Arnim’s widely-acclaimed first book, a blend of biography and fiction, based primarily on her contact with Goethe and with his mother. Von Arnim was born Bettina Brentano, into a literary family well-known to Goethe (she was the sister of Clemens Brentano, and granddaughter...


  19. HEINE, Heinrich.

    Französische Zustände.

    Hamburg, Hoffmann und Campe, 1833.

    First edition in book form of a series of newspaper articles, first published in the Augsburger Allgemeine Zeitung, discussing cultural and political developments in France. It was Heine’s first work of political journalism.


  20. RÜCKERT, Friedrich.

    Die Weisheit des Brahmanen, ein Lehrgedicht in Bruchstücken. Erstes [- Sechstes] Bändchen.

    Leipzig, Weidmann’sche Buchhandlung, 1836-39.

    First edition of one of the most important poetical works by Rückert, here in the publisher’s attractive original paper wrappers. Rückert’s large output of poetry inspired many composers, among them Schubert (‘Du bist die Ruh’), Schumann (‘Widmung’), and Mahler (‘Kindertotenlieder’...