Ann Fisher: Reforming Education for the Mere English Scholar

Document Type


Publication Date



Writer, publisher and activist Ann Fisher (1719-78) promoted educational reform in all of her works, most notably in two which remained standard educational texts into the nineteenth century-A Practical New Grammar and The Pleasing Instructor, or Entertaining Moralist-as well as in a series of essays printed in her inexpensive pocket diary, The Ladies Own Memorandum-Book. Fisher first aimed to improve English language education by decoupling English grammar from Latin grammar and by offering a pedagogical model based on practice rather than rote memorization. Later she expanded her reform of pedagogy to encompass the instructor's classroom strategies and demeanor. Such reforms, Fisher believed, would make English language education and the concomitant benefits of improved skills in speaking, reading and writing more accessible to students of all socioeconomic classes. Finally, Fisher undertook a holistic reform of education for girls and women that valorized women's intellectual capabilities and argued that serious education for all women would result in greater social and economic opportunities for themselves, for their families and for society as a whole.