We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
The Professor and the Madman | [Simon Winchester]

The Professor and the Madman

Part history, part true-crime, and entirely entertaining, listen to the story of how the behemoth Oxford English Dictionary was made. You'll hang on every word as you discover that the dictionary's greatest contributor was also an insane murderer working from the confines of an asylum.
Regular Price:$15.11
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: This is a fascinating cubbyhole of literary history that plays like the best fiction: the most-prolific contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary turns out to be an imprisoned murderer. Listening to Simon Winchester's quirky and endearing narration, I found myself infected by his obvious enthusiasm for the story - and for the detective work it took to uncover it. —Steve Feldberg

Publisher's Summary

Hidden within the rituals of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary is a fascinating mystery. Professor James Murray was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon who had served in the Civil War, was one of the most prolific contributors to the dictionary, sending thousands of neat, hand-written quotations from his home. After numerous refusals from Minor to visit his home in Oxford, Murray set out to find him. It was then that Murray would finally learn the truth about Minor - that, in addition to being a masterly wordsmith, he was also an insane murderer locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics. The Professor and the Madman is the unforgettable story of the madness and genius that contributed to one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters.

©1998 Simon Winchester; (P) 1999 HarperCollins Publishers Inc., All Rights Reserved, Harper Audio, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

"The linguistic detective story of the decade." (New York Times Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1860 )
5 star
 (691)
4 star
 (739)
3 star
 (310)
2 star
 (85)
1 star
 (35)
Overall
4.1 (1028 )
5 star
 (437)
4 star
 (359)
3 star
 (174)
2 star
 (40)
1 star
 (18)
Story
4.2 (1013 )
5 star
 (457)
4 star
 (385)
3 star
 (139)
2 star
 (22)
1 star
 (10)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    J. M. Batista 02-04-15 Member Since 2013

    José M. Batista

    HELPFUL VOTES
    191
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    896
    74
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    18
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Reality surpassing fiction"

    Revealing that a well-known politician from yesteryear had murdered someone and was insane would not be amaze a lot of people. That a person fitting that description would contribute voluminously to one of the most well-known reference works of all time is truly astonishing. A truly excellent book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carissa Hanson 02-02-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fascinating"

    Well read, loved the music and the story was entirely entertaining. I expected it to be dry but it wasn't. I recommend this book highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wingdinger 01-24-15
    wingdinger 01-24-15 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Worth the listen, but nothing mind blowing"

    Great performance. Interesting enough story about an academic with mild schizophrenia that spends years compiling contributions for the oed. Interesting tidbits about lexicography. Worth the listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MiaK 01-16-15
    MiaK 01-16-15 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "just ok"

    The book is OK, the story minorly interesting and the writing, though too academic and humorless, makes an easy listen. However I found absolutely infuriating the fact that the audible version includes over an hour of absolutely useless and boring extras - "acknowledgments", "suggested reading" and an interview with the author! So, instead of buying a 7 hour book, you are actually buying a 5 hour book and 2 hour "fillers". What a ripoff!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justine PORTLAND, OR, United States 09-13-14
    Justine PORTLAND, OR, United States 09-13-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    108
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"

    Wonderful narration by the author, extraordinarily interesting, well-told story in terms of the people, as well as the history of the Oxford English Dictionary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frederick Perth, Australia 04-30-14
    Frederick Perth, Australia 04-30-14 Member Since 2010

    Banjo

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    473
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Highly recommend."

    This is not just a dry record of the construction of the Oxford English Dictionary. A slice of social history that is sad and enjoyable throughout. Also very well read by the author.
    Thank you Simon Winchester.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    irene 11-09-13
    irene 11-09-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    99
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Good listen"
    What made the experience of listening to The Professor and the Madman the most enjoyable?

    The well-rounded story surrounding the OED.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The title says it all.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Winchester’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I downloaded 3 more of his books since this book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexandra Chicago, IL, United States 10-19-13
    Alexandra Chicago, IL, United States 10-19-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    47
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Enthralling"

    What a great story! I enjoyed this so much I immediately downloaded another book by the same author. I am a fiction girl in general, but this book made me want to delve into more history. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PAOLA CORTEGLIA, Switzerland 09-04-13
    PAOLA CORTEGLIA, Switzerland 09-04-13 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    99
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too bad it is now over!"

    I truly enjoyed listening to this audio book, and after listening to over 80 of them purchased from Audible, I can again, after a long time, give a book 5 stars for everything.

    The story is fascinating and carefully researched, the language rich but the pace not heavy or difficult to follow, the author is also the narrator and for once this choice doesn't make you regret not having hired a professional reader. I listened to it, spoke about it with friends and family while doing it, and I am still keeping in mind the names, the story, the ideas on which it is based. Not a shallow way to fill some empty time, on the contrary, a very satisfactory past time!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah 06-11-13
    Deborah 06-11-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting story, well told, beautifully narrated"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes! I would highly recommend this book to anyone who's a wordsmith. I really enjoyed hearing the author read it, too. The interview in the final chapter is quite fascinating, too.


    What did you like best about this story?

    This is an amazing tale that covers lots of different topics -- from the unrelenting dedication it took to compile the dictionary, to the possible sources of insanity in this one man, to the barbaric practices of war in the 19th century -- so it held my interest throughout.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Winchester’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, I haven't.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The Professor and the Madman -- everyone has something to offer


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 71-80 of 106 results PREVIOUS178911NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.