Robert Dodsley and the Genesis of Lowth’s
Short introduction to english grammar
On the basis of an analysis of the correspondence of the 18h-century London bookseller Robert Dodsley (1703–1764), a proposal is offered concerning the origin of Robert Lowth’s (1710–1787) Short Introduction to English Grammar (1762). The author presents arguments which suggest that Lowth’s grammar was not his own idea but that of Dodsley, who also invoked the assistance of another author whose work he published, William Melmoth (1710–1799). If this thesis holds, Lowth’s grammar is just as much the outcome of a ‘bookseller’s project’, as Dr Johnson’s Dictionary (1755), the idea for which, according to Johnson’s biographer Boswell, also came from Dodsley.
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