Henry Alford's A Plea for the Queen's English of 1864 (titled The Queen's English in later editions) was one of the earliest and most influential style manuals. It was not a comprehensive grammar, but instead moved through the language addressing topics Alford knew many people found difficult. Much of the content comprises his personal views on usage and abusage.
Alford’s manual shows little has changed since the 19th century. Section 26 looks at the incorrect insertion of the possessive apostrophe in plurals (Railway Station's for Railway Stations). The phenomenon is often referred to as the 'greengrocer's apostrophe' because of its frequency on market stall labels: potato's and carrot's, rather than the correct potatoes and carrots.
- Article by:
- Kathryn Hughes
- The middle classes
Professor Kathryn Hughes describes how the expansion of the middle classes in the 19th century led to a new emphasis on upward mobility, etiquette and conspicuous consumption.