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Deconstructing Female Conventions: Ann Fisher (1719–1778)

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This paper examines Ann Fisher’s (1719–1778) most important and influential work, A New Grammar (1745?). In this grammar, the author did not follow the trend of making English grammar fit the Latin pattern, a common practice still in the eighteenth century. Instead, she wrote an English grammar based on the nature and observation of her mother tongue. Besides, she scattered throughout her grammar a wide set of teaching devices, the ‘examples of bad English’ being her most important contribution. Her innovations and her new approach to the description of English grammar were indeed welcomed by contemporary readers, since her grammar saw almost forty editions and reprints, it influenced other grammarians, for instance Thomas Spence (1750–1814), and it reached other markets, such as London. In order to understand more clearly the value of this grammar and of its author, this grammar has to be seen in the context of her life. For this reason, we will also discuss some details of her unconventional lifestyle: unconventional in the sense that she led her life in the public sphere, not happy with the prevailing idea that women should be educated for a life at home.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Publication date: 01 January 2006

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