The A S Hornby Educational Trust was founded in 1961 by A S Hornby, an English language specialist respectfully known as "the man who made dictionaries". His most famous work is the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, which for over 70 years has helped students of English around the world understand an expansive and complex language.


Albert Sydney Hornby, fondly known by his friends as ASH, wanted the Trust’s money – much of which came out of his own pocket – to “go back to the countries from which it comes”.


At this time the teaching of English was usually based on traditional language learning principles such as the extensive use of translation, the emphasis on the written over the spoken language, and limited reference to the creative production of spoken language by the learner, all of which principles Hornby endeavoured to counteract in his approach to a dictionary based on learners’ needs.


Thanks to grants awarded by the Trust, hundreds of teachers have been able to develop their expertise through British Council Summer Schools and postgraduate courses in Linguistics and English Language Teaching at British universities.


The widespread and continuing work of the Trust is an appropriate reflection of a man who was dedicated to the teaching, and to all teachers, of the English language.


For more on the life of A S Hornby, please click here.



Albert Sydney Hornby: his life and achievements



1898 – Born in Chester


1922 – Completed a degree in English Language and Literature, University College London


1923 – Went to teach English in Japan


1931 – Invited to join the programme of vocabulary research at the Tokyo Institute for Research into English Teaching (IRET)


1936 – Appointed head of research at the IRET


1942 – First edition of the Idiomatic and Syntactic English Dictionary published in Tokyo – which was later renamed the Advanced Learner’s Dictionary


1942 – Hornby returns to England and joins the British Council. He is posted to Iran where he works as a lecturer and teacher trainer


1945 – Appointed Linguistic Adviser to the British Council in London


1946 – Founds the British Council journal, English Language Teaching


1946 – Initiates the BBC series English by Radio


1954 – Publishes A Guide to Patterns and Usage in English, one of many key books


1961 – Sets up the A S Hornby Educational Trust


1976 – Made a fellow of University College of London


1978 – Awarded a Master of Arts degree at the University of Oxford


1978 – Dies, aged 80


“He was never a remote, dry-as-dust academic, but a man of broad sympathies and practical instincts who believed that the knowledge of the expert should be put to the service of the ordinary teacher”


Dr A.P. Cowie, University of Leeds, Lexicographer.






A S Hornby

A page from the 1948 edition

Our history

“No man has ever done more to further the use of English as an international language”


Lord Annan, presenting A S Hornby in 1976 with the Fellowship of University College London

Hornby Dictionary