Thomas Sheridan Bibliography

A Course of Lectures in Elocution 1763
“Spoken language is the gift of God, written the invention of men.”
A Plan of Education for the Young Nobility and Gentry of Great Britain 1769
Sheridan describes his aim as being “to establish a uniformity of pronunciation . . . in all quarters of the globe, where English shall be taught by this method, and to remain immutably so, whilst that language shall be spoken in any part of the earth”.
General Dictionary of the English language 1780
Thomas Sheridan, godson of Swift, father of the playwright and an influential lecturer on public speaking, wrote extensively on grammar, language, education and elocution. Sheridan believed strongly in “fixed and stated rules”, in contrast to the “chance and caprice” which seemed to have governed the evolution of the English language.

Sheridan followed Johnson’s orthography but added what he considered to be the correct pronunciation of each word. In the Preface, he described Queen Anne’s reign as the golden age of spoken English, before the Hanoverian succession brought excessive French influence. He feared the decline of English into “a mere jargon, which every one may pronounce as he pleases”.