The Story of English is the title of an Emmy Award winning nine-part television series, and a companion book, both produced in 1986, detailing the development of the English language. A little bit old but very good.
The book and the television series were written by Robert MacNeil, Robert McCrum and William Cran. The book has been revised twice, once in 1993, and again in 2002.
The documentary series was directed by William Cran, and originally broadcast on BBC and PBS. It was co-produced by MacNeil-Lehrer Productions and the BBC, and was principally funded through a grant from General Foods. The third episode, "A Muse of Fire", won the 1987 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement - Informational Programming - Writing. The series was released as a 5 tape box set in 2001, running 495 minutes. The book and series have been used in University courses.
Related documentary on this subject at TDF is The Adventure of English.
Encompassing history, geography, sociology, drama, language, arts, and more, The Story of English takes viewers on an unforgettable journey through the history of the English language. Host Robert MacNeil travels the world to illustrate the language's global influence. Part travelogue, part linguistics, part history, and all fascinating, the series is a unique blend of solid scholarship and engrossing entertainment.
Episodes included in the playlist: 1. An English Speaking World, 2. The Mother Tongue, 3. A Muse of Fire, 4. The Guid Scots Tongue, 5. Black on White, 6. Pioneer O Pioneer, 7. Muvver Tongue, 8. The Loaded Weapon and 9. Next Year's Words.
Watch the full documentary now (playlist)