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Society for Pure English, Tract 01 (1919)   By:

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Preliminary Announcement


List of Members

Oct. 1919

At the Clarendon Press



The Society was founded in 1913, and was preparing to enter on its activities, when the declaration of war in Aug. 1914 determined the Committee to suspend proceedings until the national distraction should have abated. They met again after the Armistice in 1918 and agreed to announce their first issues for October 1919. Although present conditions are not as favourable as could be wished, it would seem that the public are disposed to attend to literary matters, and that the war has even quickened the interest and increased the number of those to whom the special objects of the Society will be most intelligible and attractive.

A false start is a misfortune, and recovery from its confusion must have an awkward appearance, for which it is needless to make further apology or explanation.


In calling itself the Society for Pure English it was not overlooked that the word Pure might carry a wrong suggestion. It should be explained that it does not denote, as it is sometimes used to denote, the idea that words of foreign origin are impurities in English; it rather assumes that they are not; and the Committee, whether wisely or unwisely, thought a short title of general import was preferable to a definition which would misrepresent their purpose by its necessary limitations.


The founders were originally confident that they could carry on their work without asking for any subscription from the members; and although the conditions of prices and commodities are now wholly changed and altogether unfavourable, they still hope that they may be able to keep to their scheme. If the publications of the Society are of sufficient merit, their profits should cover the expenses of an unsalaried staff; and though it shall be optional for their authors to retain a share of such prospective profits, it is hoped that most of those who contribute their work will be willing to allow all the profits to go into the funds of the Society. In the place of a small subscription, which it is as inconvenient regularly to collect as it is to pay, the secretary invites donations of any amount, great or small, which will be duly acknowledged and deposited in the Society's banking account. The sympathetic response to their prospectus warrants the belief that more donations will be forthcoming. The Society having a finite aim may, after a few years of activity, consider its usefulness to be at an end; and if, when it is wound up, it should have a balance in hand, the present Committee undertake to pay such a balance into the Pension Fund of the Society of Authors.


The Society undertakes to publish a series of tracts on the subjects which it is founded to deal with.

It is impossible to foresee the quality or amount of such expert contributions; but the Committee intend to issue at least a quarterly paper which shall contain a report of proceedings up to date. Meanwhile the two first tracts are sent gratis to all the present members. Later issues will be announced in the literary journals, and members will be expected to buy them unless they shall pre contract to have them supplied as they are issued, which may be done by a donation to the Society at the rate of 10s. a year. The tracts will be issued by the Oxford University Press.


The original Committee will continue to carry on until it is convenient to call a meeting of the members to relieve them of their responsibility; and it is their plan that the members should ultimately decide the constitution of the Society. Meanwhile they guarantee the general soundness of the books and publications which will be advertised on their pages; but under no circumstances do they make the Society responsible for all the opinions of its contributors; they desire full discussion of all questions... Continue reading book >>

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