Ann Fisher (grammarian)

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Ann Fisher (born approximately 9 December 1719 – 2 May 1778) was an author and grammarian. Her A New Grammar published in 1745 makes her the earliest published female author on modern English grammar, with deference to Elizabeth Elstob who published a grammar of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) in 1715.


Fisher was born in Lorton, Cumberland, England, the daughter of Henry Fisher, yeoman, of Oldscale. Not much more is known of her life until her marriage to Thomas Slack in December 1751. Together they had nine children and ran a number of businesses, including a ladies' school which Ann ran herself. In spite of the prejudices against women as "of inferior intelligence" at that time, Fisher managed to publish what is considered the fourth most popular English grammar book produced in the 18th century, as well as a number of other titles, many of which were published by her husband, Thomas. She died of an asthma attack in 1778.

Work on English grammar[edit]

As indicated in the title, A New Grammar with Exercises of Bad English, Ann's book used examples of poor English to teach grammar. A New Grammar also attacked the use of Latin rules in the vernacular, and was the first to suggest the pronoun he could be used for both sexes,[1] which may also have helped propel the book to over 30 editions in subsequent years. Her work was often plagiarized and quoted outright by many authors to follow her, showing her efforts were not going unnoticed.

Other works[edit]

Ann published New English Tutor (1762), Spelling Dictionary, and Pleasing Instructor, among other books.


  1. ^ John, McWhorter. "The Royal They: Fighting against the tyranny of pronouns". The New Republic. Retrieved 10 December 2014. 

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