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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.
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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

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  •  
    mosselyn Campbell, CA USA 07-23-03
    mosselyn Campbell, CA USA 07-23-03 Member Since 2002

    colemanka

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wishing for more lexicography"

    I was somewhat disappointed with this book, but probably for the very reason that most people would find it enjoyable: Too much back story about the people and not enough about the making of the dictionary. The story is well written (and narrated), but I got tired of hearing about the foibles of the madman instead of more about compilation of the OED.

    3 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nelson CA, USA 06-23-04
    Nelson CA, USA 06-23-04 Listener Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Charming drivel, but drivel"

    Not very impressed by this work. I had trouble identifying with the author's perspective, which seemed at times old fashioned, at times sexist, at times openly disdainful of Americans. I had to double check the publication date while reading this book to verify that it was written in the 20th century.

    4 of 21 people found this review helpful
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