State Library of South Australia logo To be a child
SA Memory. South Australia past and present, for the future

English-spelling book
Title : English-spelling book English-spelling book View More Images
Add To My SA Memory
Creator : Mavor, William Fordyce, 1758-1837
Place Of Creation : London
Publisher : printed and published by J.G. Somers
Date of creation : 1847
Format : Book
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : Reproduction rights are owned by State Library of South Australia. This image may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires permission from the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

The English-spelling book was first published in 1801. In it a simple illustrated alphabet it is followed by a syllabary - tables of words and reading exercises. It also includes selected fables and poems, lessons in natural history, rules of punctuation and grammar and much else. It is claimed that by 1819 the 241st edition was published. Certainly, the book remained in such popular use that in 1885 it was re-issued by the publisher Routledge with illustrations by Kate Greenaway.

The author William Fordyce Mavor was writing master to the children of the Duke of Marlborough, later becoming a minister and then headmaster of Woodstock Grammar School. He wrote over 40 books.

In the Preface, Mavor writes that previous books written for children have failed to produce the strong foundations required for mastery of English and that errors implanted at a young age are difficult to eradicate. He believes that 'the child who may be unable to acquire any other literary knowledge than what can be learnt even in this elementary and familiar book, need never have reason to blush from ignorance, or to err from a want of a solid foundation of moral and religious principles.'

Further reading :

Carpenter, Humphrey. The Oxford companion to children's literature, Oxford [Oxfordshire]; New York: Oxford University Press, 1984, pp. 167-8 [English spelling book]

Muir, Percy H. English children's books, 1600 to 1900, London: Batsford, [1954]

Whalley, Joyce Irene. Cobwebs to catch flies: illustrated books for the nursery and schoolroom, 1700-1900, London: Elek, 1974

Internet links :



About SA Memory

Explore SA Memory

SA Memory Themes


My SA Memory


What's on