The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

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Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
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A New York Times Notable Book  

The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary—and literary history.

The making of the OED was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, was stunned to discover that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. But their surprise would pale in comparison to what they were about to discover when the committee insisted on honoring him. For Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

Masterfully researched and eloquently written, The Professor and the Madman “is the linguistic detective story of the decade.” (William Safire, New York Times Magazine)

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kropferama - LibraryThing

Simon Winchester is a master storyteller and his skills are at their peak in the professor and the madman. He leaves together the stories of Dr. Murray and Dr. Minor and all those in their orbit in a concise compelling and informing manner. Highly recommend. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kslade - LibraryThing

Extremely interesting account of an unstable prisoner who contributes considerable research to the making of the giant Oxford English Dictionary. He becomes friends with Prof. James Murray who spearheaded most of the work on it. Read full review


The Man Who Taught Latin to Cattle
Gathering Earths Daughters
The Big Dictionary Conceived
Entering the Lists
The Meeting of Minds
Then Only the Monuments

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About the author (2009)

Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, The Men Who United the States, The Map That Changed the World, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa, all of which were New York Times bestsellers and appeared on numerous best and notable lists. In 2006, Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He resides in western Massachusetts.

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