Essential Books for English Teachers by @JamesTheo

Name: James Theobald
Twitter name: @JamesTheo
Sector: Secondary
Subject taught (if applicable): English
Position: Teacher
What is your advice about? Essential books for English teachers

1: ‘The Elements of Eloquence: How to Turn the Perfect English Phrase’ by Mark Forsyth.

2: ‘Gwynne’s Grammar’ by N.M. Gwynne.

3: ‘Shakespeare’s Restless World: An Unexpected History in Twenty Objects’ by Neil MacGregor.

4: ‘You Talkin’ To Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama’ by Sam Leith.

5: ‘A Little History of Literature’ by John Sutherland.


3 thoughts on “Essential Books for English Teachers by @JamesTheo

  1. Russ

    I get that James likes Gwyne’s grammar and I know why it’s popular. But honestly it’s a horrible horrible choice for teachers. I can’t say this strongly enough, teacher should absolutely not use that book as a reference guide for good English.


    1. Harry

      Hear hear! It’s execrable pedantry full of personal peeves, shibboleths and an – inevitably failed – attempt to make English conform to the rules of Latin grammar.

      The book is, though, exactly what it says on the cover: one man’s set of (often rather silly) rules, hence the name ‘Gwynne’s Grammar’.

      My goodness, even The Spectator – hardly renowned for its progressive attitude to all things pedagogical – sees Gwynne’s Grammar for what it is

      Michael Gove did a lot of good things for education. His endorsement of this little manifesto wasn’t one of them.

      Teachers would do better to consult someone like Kamm or Walsh for a style guide, or good old David Crystal for a straightforward reference book.

      Among the others, I’ve only encountered 4 and 5 and think they’re terrific. I’ll certainly try to read numbers 1 and 2 as well.

      Thanks for the tips.


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