John Herries

(d. 1781?)

John Herries was an elocutionist whose book The elements of speech, published in 1773 was became widely use and frequently cited as an important work. He was a Scotchman, whose dialect led to negative evaluations of his work by his contemporaries.

The following quotes occurred in publications of his time, indicating the biases against him by those in England, because of his Cockney dialect. Edwin, John (1791) commented about Herries:

This Reverend gentleman, who was never singular for his diffidence, had the temerity about twelve years since to go to Oxford to teach the gentlemen of that seminary the true mode of pronouncing the English language, though Mr. Herris was notorious for speaking with a grating, broad Caledonian accent; but the reception he met with, will not I believe operate as a stimulus to encourage any more attempts of the same kind, from imprudent men thus circumstanced (Kokeritz, 1949, p. 191).

Herries felt that in order to be a good orator one must know about the voice and articulatory processes involved. He also stressed the importance of proper breathing. He described the articulators and their function in speech production in detail, creating a strong basis for future phonetic research.

Writings of John Herries

Herries, J. (1773) The elements of speech. London. (Reprinted 1968 by the Scholar Press Limited, Menston, England.)

Herries, J. (1775). Analysis of a course of lectures on the sublime and beautiful in English poetry. / [electronic resource] By John Herries, A.M. To be delivered at Essex-House, Essex-Street, in the Strand. To begin on Friday the 21st of July, 1775.

Writings about John Herries

Kemp, Alan (1985). Elouction and general phonetic theory: John Herries. Histoire Epistemologie Langage, 7, 133-147.

Kokeritz, Helge (1949). A record of late 18th century Cockney. Language, 25, 190-194.

Moran, M. (ed.). (1994) Eighteenth century British and American rhetorics and rhetoricians. Westport CT: Gatewood Press.