ECEP Database :: Authors

Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database

Search Authors

Previous Record Next Record

About the Author

Name Life Dates Gender Class
Spence, Thomas 1750-1814 male unknown
Place of Birth Occupation Occupation Description
Newcastle, Northumberland, England Education, Politics elocutionist, politician


"Thomas Spence (1750-1814) was a native of Newcastle upon Tyne who is best known for his political writings, and more particularly for his radical 'Plan' for social reform involving common ownership of the land. One hitherto neglected aspect of Spence's Plan was his proposal to extend the benefits of reading and of 'correct' pronunciation to the lower classes by means of a phonetic script of his own devising, first set out and used in Spence's Grand Repository of the English Language (1775)." (Beal 1999, blurb)
"The Grand Repository was one of many English pronouncing dictionaries produced in the late eighteenth century to satisfy the growing demands for a clear guide to 'correct' pronunciation. It differs from its contemporaries firstly in that it was intended primarily for the lower classes, and secondly in that it is the only eighteenth-century pronouncing dictionary of English to use a truly 'phonetic' script in the sense of one sound = one symbol."  (Beal 1999, blurb)
"Although Spence's dictionary conforms to the general plan adopted by other lexicographers, it is clear that his system of notation was intended to serve as the basis for a reformed system of orthography for English, and he actually printed, in phonetic spelling, a little book for children entitled A Supplement to the History of Robinson Crusoe, published at Newcastle in 1782. He is also supposed to have published another lexical work entitled A Dictionary of Spensonian Language (1797), but no copy has ever been traced." (Alston 1969, no. 155, note)

Author Works