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

by Winchester, Simon.

Format: Large Print 1999
Availability: Available at 1 Library 1 of 3 copies
Available (1)
Location Collection Call #
Bethel Park Public Library Large Print LP 423.092 WINCHESTER
Location  Bethel Park Public Library
 
Collection  Large Print
 
Call Number  LP 423.092 WINCHESTER
 
 
 
Unavailable (2)
Location Collection Status
CLP - Library for the Blind Large Print Books LOST AND PAID
Location  CLP - Library for the Blind
 
Collection  Large Print Books
 
Status  LOST AND PAID
 
 
Moon Township Public Library Large Print CHECKED OUT
Location  Moon Township Public Library
 
Collection  Large Print
 
Status  CHECKED OUT
 
 
Summary
The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, 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 compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W.C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane. This audio also includes a conversation between Simon Winchester and John Simpson, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Distinguished journalist Winchester tells a marvelous, true story that few readers will have heard about. His narrative is based on official government files locked away for more than a century. As everyone knows, the Oxford English Dictionary is an essential library reference tool. The 12-volume OED took more than 70 years to produce, and one of its most distinguishing features is the copious quotations from published works to illustrate every shade of word usage. By the late 1890s the huge project was nearly half done, and the editor at the time, Professor James Murray, felt the need to meet and personally thank Dr. William Minor, with whom he had been in lengthy contact and who had contributed a lion's share of the quotations. As it turned out, Dr. Minor was an American surgeon who many years before had been found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity but had been incarcerated in an English asylum ever since. The tale of their affiliation and friendship reads like a creatively conceived novel. --Brad Hooper"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "The Oxford English Dictionary used 1,827,306 quotations to help define its 414,825 words. Tens of thousands of those used in the first edition came from the erudite, moneyed American Civil War veteran Dr. W.C. Minor¬Ďall from a cell at the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. Vanity Fair contributor Winchester (River at the Center of the World) has told his story in an imaginative if somewhat superficial work of historical journalism. Sketching Minor's childhood as a missionary's son and his travails as a young field surgeon, Winchester speculates on what may have triggered the prodigious paranoia that led Minor to seek respite in England in 1871 and, once there, to kill an innocent man. Pronounced insane and confined at Broadmoor with his collection of rare books, Minor happened upon a call for OED volunteers in the early 1880s. Here on more solid ground, Winchester enthusiastically chronicles Minor's subsequent correspondence with editor Dr. J.A.H. Murray, who, as Winchester shows, understood that Minor's endless scavenging for the first or best uses of words became his saving raison d'√™tre, and looked out for the increasingly frail man's well-being. Winchester fills out the story with a well-researched mini-history of the OED, a wonderful demonstration of the lexicography of the word "art" and a sympathetic account of Victorian attitudes toward insanity. With his cheeky way with a tale ("It is a brave and foolhardy and desperate man who will perform an autopeotomy" he writes of Minor's self-mutilation), Winchester celebrates a gloomy life brightened by devotion to a quietly noble, nearly anonymous task. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Peter Matson. BOMC selection. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Murray, James A. H. -- (James Augustus Henry), -- 1837-1915 -- Friends and associates.
Oxford English dictionary.
New English dictionary on historical principles.
Psychiatric hospital patients -- Great Britain -- Biography.
Encyclopedias and dictionaries -- History and criticism.
Lexicographers -- Great Britain -- Biography.
English language -- Lexicography.
English language -- Etymology.
Large type books.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Veterans -- Biography.
Publisher Thorndike, Me. :G.K. Hall,1999
Language English
Description 308 pages (large print) : illustrations ; 24 cm
ISBN 0783885008 (lg. print : hc : acid-free paper)
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