Book Series Publications of the Dictionary of Old English, vol. 10

Philology in Turbulent Times

Joseph Bosworth, His Dictionary, and the Recovery of Old English

Dabney A. Bankert

  • Pages: xxx + 314 p.
  • Size:152 x 229 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-0-88844-910-8
  • Hardback
  • Available


Dabney A. Bankert is former academic unit head and Professor of Medieval Literature Emerita in the Department of English at James Madison University, Virginia. Her research centres on Old English literature, in particular nineteenth-century lexicography and scholarship on the early English Middle Ages, and on post-medieval Old English glossaries.


This book situates Joseph Bosworth’s A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language (1838) and its revised 1898 version in their cultural context, reconstructing their history from a wealth of archival materials. It opens up a larger investigation into the central role played by Bosworth’s work in the birth and growth of Old English studies in the nineteenth century. And it examines the challenges faced by T. Northcote Toller in completing the revision of the Dictionary after Bosworth’s death, as well as his compilation of its Supplement in 1921. Overall, this study aims to rectify widespread disciplinary ignorance of the Dictionary’s conception, compilation, and publication, and to examine its impact on the development of the discipline.


List of Figures



PREFACE Recovering Bosworth-Toller

INTRODUCTION Building a Lexicographical Empire in Turbulent Times

CHAPTER 1 Dictionary Bosworth: The Making of a Lexicographer

CHAPTER 2 Beginning: Origins, Sources, and Method of A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language (1838)

CHAPTER 3 Compiling: Antiquarian Foundations

CHAPTER 4 Collaborating: The Bosworth Syndicate, the New Philology, and the Battle over Method

CHAPTER 5 Revising: Expanding the Lexicon, 1840–1876

CHAPTER 6 Ending: An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Based on the Manuscript Collections of the Late Joseph Bosworth (1898)

CHAPTER 7 Supplementing: T. Northcote Toller’s An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Supplement (1921)

APPENDIX 1 The Bosworth Donation

APPENDIX 2 Sources: A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language (1838)

APPENDIX 3 Bodleian Library Entry Books, 1813–1875

APPENDIX 4 Holograph Drafts of A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language (1838)


Index of Manuscripts and Archival Collections

General Index