Switch to English Switch to French

The Open University  |   Study at the OU  |   About the OU  |   Research at the OU  |   Search the OU

Listen to this page  |   Accessibility

the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers
  RED International Logo

RED Australia logo

RED Canada logo
RED Netherlands logo
RED New Zealand logo

Listings for Author:  



Click here to select all entries:



Daniel Fenning : Algebra

'Gifford had read only some ballads, the black-letter romance Parismus and Parismenus, some odd loose magazines of his mother's, the Bible (which he studied with his grandmother) and "The Imitation of Christ" (read to his mother on her deathbed). He then learned algebra by surreptitiously reading Fenning's textbook: his master's son owned the book and had deliberately hidden it from him'.

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: William Gifford      Print: Book


Daniel Fenning : The Universal Spelling Book

'Of grammar neither myself nor my schoolfellows were taught aything, except to repeat by rote the brief grammatical exercises contained in the "Universal Spelling Book", but as the Master gave no explanation of these, either as to their nature or use, they were nearly, if not quite, unintelligible to his pupils.'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Thomas Carter      Print: Book


Daniel Fenning : The universal spelling-book: or, a new and easy guide to the English Language. Containing I Tables of Words [...] V Chronological Tables of the Succession of the Kings of England [...]

'a circumstance occurd which nearly stopd me from writing even for my own amusement borrowing a school book of a companion, having some entertaining things in it both in prose and Verse with an introduction by the compiler, who doubtless like myself knew little about either [...] in this introduction was rules both for writing as well as reading Compositions in prose and verse, were, stumbling on a remark that a person who knew nothing of grammer was not capable of writing a letter nor even a bill of parcels, I was quite in the suds, seeing that I had gone on thus far without learing the first rudiments of doing it properly for I had hardly h[e]ard the name of grammer, while at school ? but as I had an itch for trying at every thing I got hold of I determ[i]ned to try grammer, and for that purpose, by the advice of a friend, bought the "Universal Spelling Book" as the most easy assistant for my starting out, but finding a jumble of words classd under this name and that name and this such a figure of speech and that another hard worded figure I turned from further notice of it in disgust for as I knew I could talk to be understood I thought by the same method my writing might be made out as easy and as proper, so in the teeth of grammer I pursued my literary journey' [In the suds = In the dumps]

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: John Clare      Print: Book


Fenning : 'Introduction' [on algebra]

'Though [William Gifford] had few means of improvement, he made the most of what he had. A treatise on algebra had been given him by a young woman, who had found it in a lodging-house. This he considered as a treasure, and he was enabled to study it by means of "Fenning's Introduction," which he found hid away among the books of his master's son. The way in which he was enabled to produce algebraic signs was remarkable. Being deprived by his hard master of pen, ink, and paper, he beat out pieces of leather as smooth as possible, and worked out his problems on them with a blunted awl.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: William Gifford      Print: Book


Click here to select all entries:


Green Turtle Web Design