Item 3 - Letter from Joseph Wright to R. B. McKerrow

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Letter from Joseph Wright to R. B. McKerrow


  • 16 Dec. 1901 (Creation)

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1 folded sheet, 1 envelope

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Langdale House, Park Town, Oxford.—Is sorry that McKerrow (an existing subscriber) was sent a copy of the new prospectus for the English Dialect Dictionary. Explains his plans for increasing the number of subscribers.

(With envelope.)



Langdale House, Park Town, Oxford
Dec. 16. 1901.

Dear Mr McKerrow,

Many thanks for your kind letter. I am sorry you should have been bothered with a copy of the new Prospectus. Since I began to prepare the Dictionary for Press in 1895 I have lost so many Subscribers by death that it is necessary to increase the existing number to enable me to finish the work upon the original plan. In order to induce people to become Subscribers I decided to offer them three volumes [NB. not four although 4 are printed except that the ‘list of words kept back’ is not yet printed for volume IV.], the second half of vol. III will be issued to you and the other Subscribers early this next year. There is no fear of my offering better terms and Conditions to any eventual new Subscribers. You will notice that any new Subscribers will have to bind themselves to Subscribe for the whole work! Whereas there is nothing whatever binding on the part of old Subscribers.

No, I am not receiving ‘advance Subscriptions’, this would throw my accounts into a muddle.

After this year I intend to issue 4 parts [= a whole volume] a year for 1902, 1903 and 1904 which will practically complete the work with the exception of the Supplement, bibliography and grammar which will not, I think amount to more than 2 parts altogether.

I have always made it a point to keep a good way ahead of the parts issued. Early next year you will receive a notice stating that unless I hear from Subscribers to the contrary, I shall send them for the next three years 4 parts a year in return for a double Subscription. What is also of great importance to the Subscribers is that I intend to give them more for their money than was promised in the original prospectus,

Yours sincerely
J. Wright

[Direction on envelope:] R. B. McKerrow, Esqe | 22, Friars Stile Rd | Richmond | Surrey.


Letter-head of the English Dialect Society. The envelope was postmarked at Oxford at 8 p.m. on 16 December 1901, and at Richmond, Surrey (most of the place-name is missing), at 6.15 a.m. on the 17th. The square brackets are original.

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