Who was John E. Metcalfe? He appears to have been the author of a usage guide, called The Right Way to Improve your English. The book is cited by Milroy and Milroy (1999), but (apart from a couple of references to Fowler) it is the only such work they focus on. The Milroys drew upon the 1975 edition, which is a revised edition, so there must be an earlier first edition, but I can’t seem to find it.
Milroy and Milroy cite him for his objection to expressions like face up to, stand for, slow down, try out and the like, which they quote him as describing as “hateful”, “horrible” and “disreputable” (1999:62). In other words, he is cited (among other things) for using the kind emotional metalanguage that we often find in popular books on usage. (The Milroys do not deal with Metcalfe’s use of metalanguage though.)
On p. 57 of their book they write that the book “first appeared as an inexpensive paperback in 1963 and has been reprinted several times”.
But who was John E. Metcalfe? And why was his book so popular that a revised edition was required? These are things we’d very much like to know. And if anyone has a copy to spare, we’d be very interested.
Metcalfe, John E. (1975), The Right Way to Improve your English [rev. ed.]. Kingswood, Surrey: Elliot Right Way Books.
Milroy, James and Lesley Milroy (1999), Authority in Language. Investigating Standard English [3rd ed.]. London and New York: Routledge.