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Elisha Coles in Context


This article proposes a re-assessment of Elisha Coles, the least studied of the six hard-word lexicographers of seventeenth-century England. After presenting an overview of his life and his English Dictionary, it shows the respects in which Coles's lexicographical work was innovative; it asks why his dictionary was so small, suggesting that this was a competitive publishing strategy, designed in particular to ensure that the English Dictionary took over the section of the market which had previously been shared by revised editions of the dictionary of Cockeram; it argues for Coles's liveliness as a reader and thinker; and it gives an account of the pedagogical context of his dictionary.