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The professor and the madman : a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English dictionary

Author: Simon Winchester
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins Publishers, ©1998.
Edition/Format:   Book : Biography : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
The creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds, and organized the sprawling language into 414,825 precise definitions. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story - a story of two remarkable men whose strange twenty-year relationship lies at the core of this historic undertaking.  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Biography
History
Biographies
Named Person: James A H Murray; William Chester Minor; James Augustus Henry Murray, Sir; William Chester Minor; James Augustus Henry Murray; James Augustus Henry Murray; William Chester Minor; William Chester Minor; James A H Murray
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Simon Winchester
ISBN: 0060175966 9780060175962
OCLC Number: 38425992
Description: xi, 242 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
Contents: 1. The dead of night in Lambeth Marsh --
2. The man who taught Latin to cattle --
3. The madness of war --
4. Gathering Earth's daughters --
5. The big dictionary conceived --
6. The scholar in cell block two --
7. Entering the lists --
8. Annulated, art, brick-tea, buckwheat --
9. The meeting of minds --
10. The unkindest cut --
11. Then only the monuments.
Responsibility: Simon Winchester.
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Abstract:

The creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds, and organized the sprawling language into 414,825 precise definitions. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story - a story of two remarkable men whose strange twenty-year relationship lies at the core of this historic undertaking. Professor James Murray, an astonishingly learned former schoolmaster and bank clerk, was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon from New Haven, Connecticut, who had served in the Civil War, was one of thousands of contributors who submitted illustrative quotations of words to be used in the dictionary. But Minor was no ordinary contributor. He was remarkably prolific, sending thousands of neat, handwritten quotations from his home in the small village of Crowthorne, fifty miles from Oxford. On numerous occasions Murray invited Minor to visit Oxford and celebrate his work, but Murray's offer was regularly - and mysteriously - refused. Thus the two men, for two decades, maintained a close relationship only through correspondence. Finally, in 1896, after Minor had sent nearly ten thousand definitions to the dictionary but had still never traveled from his home, a puzzled Murray set out to visit him. It was then that Murray finally learned the truth about Minor - that, in addition to being a masterful wordsmith, Minor was also a murderer, clinically insane - and locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics.

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Not Urban Legend

by IcyWiz (WorldCat user published 2014-02-11) Very Good Permalink

The premise of this book may seem like fiction, and it's written better than most mainstream fiction is today. Yet it's a true accounting, and it's painstakingly researched. Even if you have no interest in practical lexicography, this book is incredibly interesting. 

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Lexicology and Insanity

by hanahjain (WorldCat user published 2007-09-29) Very Good Permalink
In Simon Winchester’s thoroughly researched book, 'The Professor and the Madman' is the history of the Oxford English Dictionary, and follows the lives of two men who were essential to its creation. Professor James Murray was the first editor of the OED, and Dr. W.C. Minor was an American Civil War veteran...
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