Monday, 5 September 2011


"Instant English 2" by John Peter Sloan
Loyal readers and fans of John Peter Sloan have expressed outrage and disappointment at the shocking revelations of plagiarism made against his series of “Instant English” books. With the launch of “Instant English 2” only days away, a startling discovery has come to light: John Peter Sloan has actually COPIED all his material from an earlier work – without any acknowledgement or reference to the original.

Published in London in 1907, “Instantaneous English” was the best-selling title written by James Parker Sloope, an itinerant music hall singer and comedian. Sloope achieved a certain level of fame in the early 20th century with his popular stage perfomances, during which he would explain the basics of the English language to those hungry for his unique and humorous delivery. His shows also included a cast of hilarious characters, such as the two pupils at the Basingstoke Academy for Young Ladies, Gwendolen and Beatrix. Best-known for his catch-phrase “The writing instrument lies prostrate upon the desk” and his frequent appearances on seaside piers and in music halls, Sloope also pioneered the use of early recording equipment to immortalise his wit and wisdom. Thomas Edison himself referred to Sloope in New York in 1901: “Bringing Mr Sloope’s ironic discourses to the masses are exactly what I invented the phonograph for”.

It was the chance discovery of a vintage copy of “Instantaneous English” in a second-hand bookshop in Charing Cross Road that led to Sloan being found out. Luca Spicchisi, an Italian student of English on holiday in London,  came across the book while browsing the language titles. “I was shocked,” he explained to journalists, “I already own “Instant English” and was really looking forward to the publication of “Instant English 2” this month. But now I am very upset: Sloan has obviously lifted all his material and ideas from Sloope’s book. All he has done is to update some of the references – for example, Sloope’s brilliant chapter on “How to write personal letters and commercial correspondence” becomes advice on writing emails in Sloane’s book. Quite frankly, I feel cheated.”

Reporters are keen to confront Mr Sloan with the allegations, but a spokesperson for the man who has been dubbed Italy’s first “rockstar of English” said he was unavailable for comment.

The cover of "Instantaneous English" by James Parker Sloope, 1907.