Our History

The Apostrophe Protection Society was started in 2001 by John Richards with the specific aim of “preserving the correct use of this currently much abused punctuation mark” in all forms of text written in the English Language.

 

In November 2019, John decided to close the APS, citing his personal need (at age 96) to cut back on commitments and also his view that  fewer organisations and individuals were caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English Language. He felt that the APS had done its best but the ignorance and laziness present in modern times had won! His announcement in November 2019 brought an enormous amount of interest both from the media and other folk worldwide, most of whom were shocked by his decision. The website remained live and was kept updated by the APS webmaster, John Hale. 

In late 2021, a new champion for the apostrophe emerged in Bob McCalden. As a passionate advocate for the apostrophe over several decades, he was convinced there was still a role for the Apostrophe Protection Society to play in educating people on this sometimes misunderstood item of punctuation. The APS has therefore been re-born, revitalised, and will strive to continue the mission.

John Richards
The first chairman of the Apostrophe Protection Society
A Biography - Written in 2001

John Richards spent most of his working life in journalism - about three quarters of it as a reporter and the remaining quarter as a sub editor. His task in the latter job was to prepare reporters' copy for insertion into the paper. This involved tightening the story if it needed it, changing clumsy phrasing and cutting to length (each story is fitted into a page rather like a jigsaw). An important part, however, was correcting grammatical errors and, in particular, adding, deleting or moving apostrophes. It constantly amazed him how often reporters, especially the younger ones, seemed to have no idea of the correct use of this very useful little device.

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When John retired, this irritation didn't disappear but became even more obvious. Everywhere he went he saw the same mistakes over and over again until he decided that he could no longer ignore it. So he formed the Apostrophe Protection Society in the hope that he would find half a dozen like-minded people. He takes up the story: "I didn't find half a dozen people. Instead, within a month of my plaint appearing in a national newspaper, I received over 500 letters of support, not only from all corners of the United Kingdom, but also from America, Australia, France, Sweden, Hong Kong and Canada!"

John Hale - original APS webmaster
A short account of his involvement in the APS and the evolution of the first website

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Having just retired from 31 years of making television and radio programmes for the BBC in London, in 2000 John Hale saw an article in The Daily Telegraph about the newly formed Apostrophe Protection Society and its self-appointed Chairman, John Richards.

 

Following research, and being interested in the correct use of punctuation himself, John discovered that the APS had no website so he contacted John Richards who confirmed that, as yet, there wasn’t one.

As a designer of websites, John Hale offered to build one, an offer readily accepted by John Richards, and it was launched a short while later in June 2001. The popular and much visited site changed and matured through the following 20 years until the untimely death of John Richards in March 2021, after which the APS and its website were given a new lease of life by its current owner, Bob McCalden.