Digital Joseph Priestley Collection at Penn State University

The Joseph Priestley Collection at Penn State University has been digitized and is now available on the website of the PSU Library. The digital collection contains several of Priestley’s letters, his last will & testament, his memoirs and his library card, identifiying Priestley as president of the Birmingham Library. All these materials can now be seen read in manuscript on the PSU libary website (follow the link above).

Joseph Priestley interactive biographical map

Just to show what interesting things linguists can do with Google Maps, I have created two interactive maps relating to the eighteenth-century grammarian Joseph Priestley.

One is based on biographical information on Priestley, available through the following link Priestley biographical map.

The other shows the places where Priestley’s grammars were published, available by following the link Priestley’s grammars.


Thomas Spence honoured by The Thomas Spence Trust

Thomas Spence, the well-known land reformer, utopian writer, and advocate of men and women’s rights, was honoured last week during the Spence Mini-Fest, organised by The Thomas Spence Trust. Here are some pictures from the unveiling of the commemoratory plaque, followed by the oration delivered by Keith Armstrong. Read more »

Joseph Priestley translated into German

One of the measures of the popularity of an eighteenth-century grammar is its translation into other languages. In my research on Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) I have not come across many translations of his works on language, but just the other day I found one I haven’t seen mentioned before. I happened upon the website European Cultural Heritage Online (ECHO), for which I have added a link in this post, and found a German translation of Priestley’s Course of Lectures on Oratory and Criticism (1777).

titlepage German translation Priestley's Lectures on Oratory and Criticism

Dr. Joseph Priestley’s Vorlesungen über Redekunst und Kritik was published by Schwickert in Leipzig in 1779, just two years after its original publication in England, in German blackletter typeface. It was translated by the German critic and literary historian Johann Joachim Eschenburg (1743-1820), who "is best known by his efforts to familiarize his countrymen with English literature" (‘Eschenburg, Johann Joachim’ Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 11th ed. vol.9).

The Thomas Spence Trust and Spence Mini-Fest June 2010

It’s good to welcome the establishment of The Thomas Spence Trust, founded by a group of Tyneside activists intent on celebrating and promoting the life and work of that noted pioneer of people’s rights, pamphleteer and poet Thomas Spence (1750-1814), who has born on Newcastle’s Quayside in those turbulent times. Read more »

Late Modern English in Sheffield

Thanks to Susan Fitzmaurice, Joan Beal and Jane Hodson for organising the Fourth Late Modern English conference at the University of Sheffield. It was another very good, focused conference. For those of the delegates who are interested, here are pictures from the Lord Mayor’s reception at the Town Hall and the conference dinner at the Blue Moon Cafe.

Next HiSoN conference to be held at the University of Leiden

The research project “Brieven als Buit/ Letters as Loot” will be organising the next Historical Sociolinguistic Network Conference at Leiden University in June 2011. This time, the theme of the conference will be: "Touching the Past: (Ego)documents in a Linguistic and Historical Perspective". Scholars interested in any aspect relating to the HiSoN Conference theme are invited to submit abstracts for papers and to propose suggestions for workshops or panel sessions. More information can be found on the conference website:

Monthly Lunch Meeting March 26th, 2010

As part of the Monthly Lunch Meeting series organized by "The Codifiers and the English Language", Casper de Jonge will be giving a lecture entitled "Between Grammar and Rhetoric: Ancient Linguistic Theories in the Context of Rhetorical Theory." The lecture will be held on March 26th, 2010 from 12:00 to 13:00 in the 1168 building, room 004. All welcome!

Lowth’s grammars in ECCO II

The new version of ECCO is now readily accessible at the University of Leiden. It contains eleven (!) more editions of Lowth’s grammar, including … Read more »

Robert Lowth website online

In commemoration of Robert Lowth’s 300th birthday, the well-known author of "A Short Introduction to English Grammar" and Bishop of London, 2010 may rightly be called the Robert Lowth Year. The Robert Lowth website ( is now online, including information on Lowth, various related links, an MA Thesis Prize, as well as numerous events taking place in 2010 (for example, a symposium on Robert Lowth to be held from 17-18 December 2010, at the University of Leiden). For more information, please visit