I actually remember the first time I saw a copy of Raymond Murphy’s English Grammar in Use. I hadn’t been teaching long and I was sitting on a bus in Brasília, going from one class to another, when I spotted it. “Sounds like the kind of book I need to read” I joked half seriously to myself.
It then started to appear more regularly, as students would turn up to their classes with it under their arm, just in case their native speaker teacher wasn’t particularly au fait with the rules behind verb + preposition + -ing, although I’m not sure where they could possibly have got that idea… 😉
I really got an idea of the books success when I moved to Korea and saw the same piles of copies in book shops, just as I’d seen in Brazil, and I thought to myself “Man alive, I don’t know who this Raymond Murphy fellow is but I think he hit the jackpot.” Until recently, I still had no idea who he was. In my mind, he was a recluse, living in a solid gold house on a tiny Pacific island, surrounded by pots of cash, a bit like this. To be honest, I think that says more about the state of my mind than anything about Mr Murphy… Someone who has an altogether more well rounded idea about him is Mieke Kenis, known to most of you as @mkofab on Twitter. She had the pleasure of being his student 30 years ago and of being a guinea pig for what was to become the world’s English language grammar bible. Here she shares with us of her memories of her summer in Oxford with the English language learner’s grammar guru…