Eighteenth-century English normative grammars and their readers
Who were the readers of eighteenth-century normative English grammars? Because one grammar from the end of the century uniquely includes an elaborate list of subscribers, the work’s readership can be analysed. People who subscribed to Richard Postlethwaite’s <i>Grammatical Art Improved</i> (1795) comprised booksellers, teachers, clergymen and relatives, but also members from the rising middle classes. By this time, normative grammars were evidently important to the socially ambitious. Being largely based on Robert Lowth’s <i>Short Introduction to English Grammar</i> (1762) and further anticipating the rise of the usage guide, the book was highly ambitious in content and approach, but ultimately failed to be successful because its publication coincided with Lindley Murray’s phenomenally popular <i>English Grammar</i>, also published in 1795.