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William Holder, 17th Century Teacher of the Deaf

By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 18 January 2013

HOLDER, William (1616-98), was a Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral and Sub-Dean of the Chapel Royal. In 1659 Holder gained a reputation  for teaching Admiral Edward Popham’s only son, “being borne deaf and dumbe”, to speak. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1663 and contributed An experiment concerning deafness to its Philosophical Transactions in 1668. Holder gives a full account of his teaching methods in the appendix to his book Elements of speech published in 1669. John Aubrey’s Brief lives includes a biography of William Holder, with an account of his feud with John Wallis.

We have a copy of Holder’s book, illustrated below.

There is a talk available on line from the Royal Society on the dispute between Holder & Wallis http://royalsociety.org/events/2012/wallis-holder-dispute/

HOLDER, W. Elements of speech: an essay of inquiry into the natural production of letters: with an appendix concerning persons deaf & dumb. J. Martyn, 1669.

AUBERY, J. Aubrey’s Brief lives; edited by Oliver Lawson Dick. Penguin Books, 1962. pp. 238-240.

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