From the Old English of Beowulf to the Middle English of Chaucer to the many dialects that make up our modern tongue, the history of English is a history of change. Featuring materials from KU’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library, this exhibition explores English as embodied in the writings of its practitioners, whether celebrated authors, such as John Milton and Toni Morrison, or scholars, lexicographers, and grammarians, such as Elizabeth Elstob, Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster, and Robert Lowth or anonymous and little-known writers of “everyday” English. In manuscripts and books dating from 1000 CE to the present, readers will encounter the varied forces at work growing, standardizing, governing, describing, reforming, and reinventing English.
Histories of the English Language
Worcester (?), England, circa 1000-1050, with 13th-century annotations by the Tremulous Hand of Worcester.
England, circa 1668. Contains approximately 300 culinary recipes and 425 household remedies for disease, wounds, etc.
Full title: The nevv vvorld of vvords. Or a general English dictionary. Containing the proper significations, and etymologies of all words derived…
London: printed by W.R. for Robert Harford at the Angel in Cornhill.
Extended title: The lady’s polite secretary, or New female letter writer : Containing an elegant variety of interesting and instructive letters,…
London: Printed for J. Coote, at No.16, and T. Evans No.54, Pater-Noster-Row
The Kenneth Spencer Research Library is home to some of the rarest and most precious volumes and materials in the world. The collections here encompass recorded human knowledge ranging from cuneiform tablets written four millennia ago, to the imagined far-future landscapes of science fiction authors being published today. Spencer Research Library is open to everyone. We welcome the public as well as researchers and scholars from all academic disciplines.