A facsimile edition from 1867 of the very first rhyming dictionary, produced by Peter Levins in 1570. Levins (also sometimes spelt Levens) produced the book, as he states in his introduction, because "It is necessarie for makers of meeter, so that it seemeth not only to redy him that maketh, but also to give him the way to learne the arte of the same". Some scholars speculate that Levins' dictionary may have provided Spenser with some words for use in the Shepheardes Calender (and perhaps could it also of been some use to the Bard himself? The timings would work out at least). Little is known about Levins himself, though Henry Wheatley does give some scant details in his preface to this 19th-century edition, quoting a writer called Wood who talks of Levins being born in Yorkshire, England, and educated at Oxford University. He was the author of one other work we know of - The Pathway to Health - which was apparently very popular in its day. As well as being of interest for being the first rhyming dictionary, it is also of interest simply as a collection of words used at the time and also notable as the first dictionary to indicate words no longer in use.
July 3, 2014