The book offers insight into the publication history of eighteenth-century
English grammars in unprecedented detail. It is based on a close analysis
of various types of relevant information: Alston's bibliography of 1965,
showing that this source needs to be revised urgently; the recently
published online database Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) with
respect to sources of information never previously explored or analysed
(such as book catalogues and library catalogues); Carol Percy's database on
the reception of eighteenth-century grammars in contemporary periodical
reviews; and so-called precept corpora containing data on the treatment in
a large variety of grammars (and other works) of individual grammatical
By focussing on individual grammars and their history a number of
long-standing questions are solved with respect to the authorship of
particular grammars and related work (the Brightland/Gildon grammar and the
Bellum Grammaticale; Ann Fisher's grammar) while new questions are
identified, such as the significant change of approach between the
publication of one grammar and its second edition of seven years later
(Priestley), and the dependence of later practical grammars (for mothers
and their children) on earlier publications.
The contributions present a view of the grammarians as individuals with (or
without) specific qualifications for undertaking what they did, with their
own ideas on teaching methodology, and as writers ultimately engaged in the
common aim presenting practical grammars of English to the general public.
Interestingly - and importantly - this collection of articles demonstrates
the potential of ECCO as a resource for further research in the field.