This issue of English Language and Linguistics contains a selection of papers from the fourth conference on Late Modern English, held at the University of Sheffield in May 2010. Twenty-one years previously, when Charles Jones referred to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as the ‘Cinderellas of English historical linguistic study’ (1989: 279), such a conference, let alone the fourth in a series of such conferences, would have seemed highly unlikely. Jones was alluding to the comparative neglect of the more recent past in historical studies of English. Up to this point, linguistic scholars had tended to regard the Late Modern period as unworthy of their attention. Morton W. Bloomfield & Leonard Newmark reflect this view in their assertion that ‘after the period of the Great Vowel Shift was over, the changes that were to take place in English phonology were few indeed’ (1963: 293). They also argue that any changes in the language that had occurred between the eighteenth and the mid twentieth centuries were ‘due to matters of style and rhetoric . . . rather than to differences in phonology, grammar or vocabulary’, going on to claim that ‘historical or diachronic linguistics, as such, is traditionally less concerned with such stylistic and rhetorical changes of fashion than with phonological, grammatical and lexical changes’ (1963: 288). This tendency to disregard anything not viewed as structural is very much of its time, but almost thirty years later, Dennis Freeborn was still claiming that ‘the linguistic changes that have taken place from the eighteenth century to the present day are relatively few’ (1992: 180).