Kirkby, John

Tagged: Author

(circa 1705-1754) UK clergyman and author whose two main works were plagiarized and who may also have written as Pythagorolunister (see Checklist below for title). He lifted his A New English Grammar (1746) from New Grammar (1745) by Anne Fisher (1719-1778), and is not therefore responsible for the eighteenth-century invention of the convention that "he" can stand for he, or she, or it. His RobinsonadeThe Capacity and Extent of the Human Understanding, Exemplified in the Extraordinary Case of Automathes, a Young Nobleman, Who Was Accidentally Left in his Infancy upon a Desolate Island, and Continued Nineteen Years in that Solitary State, Separate from all Human Society; a Narrative Abounding with Many Surprizing Occurrances, both Useful and Entertaining to the Reader (1745), a tale whose subtitle is descriptive – was lifted from an anonymous romance, The History of Autonous (1736), which has no fantastic content. Kirkby's version incorporates Automathes's discovery of a superior white civilization in the Pacific. [JC]

John Kirkby

born either Cumberland or Londesborough, Yorkshire: apparently 1705

died Canterbury, Kent: 1754



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