The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
Posted by Jenny Arch on Tue, 02/14/2012 - 12:00pm

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The Professor and the Madman is the story of two men, James Murray and William Minor, who contributed in different ways to the creation of the monumental first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Murray was a studious Scot who eventually became the editor of the OED; Minor was an American, a former medical surgeon, and – at the time he contributed to the great work – a patient at the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Simon Winchester speculates sympathetically on the cause of Minor’s paranoia and insanity, but focuses primarily on the story of the OED and the eventual correspondence between “the professor and the madman.” Winchester combines elements of history, mystery, and lexicography (the compiling, writing, and editing of dictionaries) into one book of manageable size. It's a good read, and chances are you'll learn something new!