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The Story of English is the title of an Emmy Award winning nine-part television series, and a companion book, both produced in 1986, detailing the development of the English language.

The book and the television series were written by Robert MacNeil, Robert McCrum and William Cran.[1] The book has been revised twice, once in 1993 (ISBN 0140154051), and again in 2002 (ISBN 0142002313).

The documentary series was directed by William Cran,[2] and originally broadcast on BBC and PBS. It was co-produced by MacNeil-Lehrer Productions and the BBC, and was principally funded through a grant from General Foods. The third episode, "A Muse of Fire", won the 1987 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement - Informational Programming - Writing. The series was released as a 5 tape box set in 2001, running 495 minutes.

The book and series have been used in University courses.[3][4]

Episode list

  1. An English Speaking World
  2. The Mother Tongue
  3. A Muse of Fire
  4. The Guid Scots Tongue
  5. Black on White
  6. Pioneer O Pioneer
  7. Muvver Tongue
  8. The Loaded Weapon
  9. Next Year's Words


  1. ^ McCrum, Robert; Robert MacNeil, William Cran (1986). The Story of English. New York: Viking. ISBN 0670804673.  
  2. ^ The Story of English at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ The Story of English Video Series - contents listing, including timecode descriptions at the Internet Archive
  4. ^ ENG 121: The Story of English


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