Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-language Tourist's Guide to Britain

ISBN : 9780199668120

David Crystal; Hilary Crystal
432 Pages
186 x 252 mm
Pub date
Nov 2013
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Wordsmiths and Warriors explores the heritage of English through the places in Britain that shaped it. It unites the warriors, whose invasions transformed the language, with the poets, scholars, reformers, and others who helped create its character. The book relates a real journey. David and Hilary Crystal drove thousands of miles to produce this fascinating combination of English-language history and travelogue, from locations in south-east Kent to the Scottish lowlands, and from south-west Wales to the East Anglian coast. David provides the descriptions and linguistic associations, Hilary the full-colour photographs. They include a guide for anyone wanting to follow in their footsteps but arrange the book to reflect the chronology of the language. This starts with the Anglo-Saxon arrivals in Kent and in the places that show the earliest evidence of English. It ends in London with the latest apps for grammar. In between are intimate encounters with the places associated with such writers as Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Wordsworth; the biblical Wycliffe and Tyndale; the dictionary compilers Cawdrey, Johnson, and Murray; dialect writers, elocutionists, and grammarians, and a host of other personalities. Among the book's many joys are the diverse places that allow warriors such as Byrhtnoth and King Alfred to share pages with wordsmiths like Robert Burns and Tim Bobbin, and the unexpected discoveries that enliven every stage of the authors' epic journey.


1. Pegwell Bay: arrival
2. Caistor St Edmund: the earliest known English word
3. Undley Common: the first recorded English sentence
4. Jarrow: Bede and the origins of English
5. Lindisfarne: glossaries and translations
6. Ruthwell: the finest runic inscription
7. Stourton and Edington: King Alfred and the birth of English
8. Maldon: the ultimate warrior wordsmith
9. Winchester: the first standard English
10. Cerne Abbas: Aelfric and the first English conversation
11. Ely: Wulfstan and Old English style
12. Peterborough: the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
13. Battle and Normans Bay: the French connection
14. Bourne: Orrm and English spelling
15. Areley Kings: Layamon's English Chronicle
16. Chester and Berkeley: Higden, Trevisa, and the rise of English
17. Rhuddlan: the English language in Wales
18. Manorbier: little England beyond Wales
19. Dunfermline: the birth of Scots English
20. Talbot Yard, London SE1: Chaucer and Middle English
21. Canterbury: from ancient to modern
22. Cursitor Street, London EC4: Chancery and standard English
23. Tothill Street, London SW1: Caxton and printing English
24. St Albans: Juliana Berners and collective nouns
25. Paston: a family of letters
26. Lutterworth: John Wycliffe and Bible translation
27. North Nibley: William Tyndale and the English Bible
28. Chichester: William Bullokar and the first English grammar
29. Suffolk Lane and St Paul's, London EC4: Richard Mulcaster and the status of English
30. Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespeare and English idiom
31. Park Street, London SE1: Shakespeare and linguistic innovation
32. Oakham: Robert Cawdrey and the first dictionary
33. Willoughby: John Smith and new Englishes
34. East India Dock, London E14: the East India Company and global English
35. Hampton Court Palace: King James and his Bible
36. Black Notley: John Ray and English proverbs
37. Aldwincle: John Dryden and an English Academy
38. Old Broad Street, London EC2: the Royal Society and scientific English
39. Rochdale: Tim Bobbin and local dialect
40. Lichfield: Johnson and the dictionary
41. Old St Pancras Church, London NW1: John Walker and pronunciation
42. York: Lindley Murray and English grammar
43. Alloway: Robert Burns and Scots
44. Peebles and Edinburgh: the Chambers brothers and encyclopedic English
45. Grasmere: William Wordsworth and poetic language
46. West Malvern: Roget and the thesaurus
47. Bath: Isaac Pitman and English shorthand
48. Oxford: James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary
49. Winterborne Came: William Barnes and speech-craft
50. Higher Bockhampton: Thomas Hardy and Wessex dialect
51. Saltaire: Joseph Wright and English dialects
52. Hinton St George: Henry Fowler and English usage
53. Ayot St Lawrence: George Bernard Shaw and spelling reform
54. Laugharne: Dylan Thomas and Welsh English
55. Tilbury: the Empire Windrush and new dialects
56. University College, London WC1: Daniel Jones and English phonetics
57. University College, London WC1: the Survey of English Usage
Regional Grouping
Index of Places
General Index

About the author: 

David Crystal is known throughout the world as a writer, editor, lecturer and broadcaster on language. He has published extensively on the history and development of English, including The Stories of English (2004), Evolving English (2010), Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010), The Story of English in 100 Words (2011), and Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (2012).; Hilary Crystal trained as a speech therapist, worked for a while in clinical linguistic research, then became a sub-editor for the various volumes in the Cambridge and Penguin families of encyclopedias. She has designed several books, notably the anthologies of the poetry of John Bradburne edited by David.

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