Between 1700 and 1800 English prose became more polite and less closely tied to speech. A large scale feminisation of literary and other values coincided with the development of a mature print culture; these two historical trends make themselves felt in the evolution of prose. In this book Carey McIntosh explores oral dimensions of written texts t only in writers such as Swift, Defoe and Astell, who have a strong colloquial base, but also in more bookish writers, including Shaftesbury, Johnson and Burke. After 1760, McIntosh argues, prose became more dignified and more self-consciously rhetorical. He examines the new correctness, sponsored by prescriptive grammars and Scottish rhetorics of the third quarter of the century; the new politeness, sponsored by women writers; and standardisation, which by definition encouraged precision and abstractness in language. This book offers support for a hypothesis that these are t only stylistic changes but also major events in the history of the language.