Jonathan Evans’s An Introduction to Old English was published by the Modern Language Association in Spring 2021. The book’s 802 pages represent the culmination of some 25 years’ work compiling, expanding, correcting, and revising drafts of the text-in-progress with input from the 652 students enrolled in his Old English classes from 1994 to 2019. The book is the fifth in the MLA’s “Older Languages” series inaugurated by W.P. and R.P.M. Lehmann’s An Introduction to Old Irish in 1975. The series also includes volumes on Gothic, Old French, Old Occitan, and now Old English. In the (online) Medieval Review, Caroline Batten described the book as “an effective, impeccably researched, and highly innovative pedagogical text” (https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/tmr/article/view/33404/36979).
The idea that guided the book’s development from the start was to introduce the salient points and minor details of Old English grammar in a logical sequence while simultaneously tracing chronologically the outlines of early English history, using annals from the Peterborough Manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to illustrate grammatical forms and provide translation practice. In closing her review, Batten wrote, “An Introduction to Old English presents a well-designed, substantive, and entirely authoritative course plan for the teaching of Old English in its linguistic and historical context, making it a valuable contribution to medieval language pedagogy.”