William Enfield


Portrait of William Enfield     Title page of The Speaker

William Enfield was a British Unitarian minister and elocutionist. He published a bestselling book on elocution entitled The Speaker, first published in 1774. The book was an elocutionary practice book consisting of a compendium of writings. It contained an introductory essay that contained the following eight rules of elocution:

  1. Let your articulation be distinct and deliberate.
  2. Let your pronunciation be bold and forcible.
  3. Acquire a compass and variety in the height of your voice.
  4. Pronounce your words with propriety and elegance.
  5. Pronounce every word consisting of more that one syllable with its proper accent.
  6. In every sentence, distinguish the most significant words by a natural, forcible, and varied emphasis.
  7. Acquire a just variety of pause and cadence.
  8. Accompany the emotions and passions which your words express, by correspondent tones, looks and gestures (Enfield, 1785, pp. 8-29).

In 1780, Enfield wrote a sequel to The Speaker, called Exercises in Elocution. The Speaker was subsequently republished and went through many editions. It was used regularly by teachers of elocution and in instructional courses on rhetoric both in England and the US. It remained in print through the middle of the 19th century.

Enfield was born in Sudbury, Suffolk in the UK. In 1763 he became the minister at Benn's Garden Chapel in Liverpool. In 1767 he married Mary Holland and they subsequently had five children, three daughters and two sons. In 1770 he moved to Warrington, to head a Unitarian congregation. He also took a position of tutor in belles-lettres at Warrington Academy. From there he moved to Norwich to assume another ministry.

Enfield was committed throughout his life to civil rights and religious reform. He published many servons and contributed regularly to the liberal British journal Monthly Magazine.

Enfield died on 3 November 1797.

Writings of William Enfield, arranged chronologically

Enfield, W. The speaker, or, Miscellaneous pieces: selected from the best English writers and disposed under proper heads, with a view to facilitate the improvement of youth in reading and speaking to which is prefixed an essay on elocution. NY: Evert Duyckinck. Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=HtQCAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=William+Enfield&source=bl&ots=WWxnyAdaaZ&sig=5u1gNU2FG9zKSrHbvcDuhUQDTQ8&hl=en&ei=KAUdTJboEYP98AaetNGcDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDYQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved June 19, 2010.

Enfield, W. (1798) Sermons on practical subjects, 3 vols.