The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary (P.S.)

77%

9 Critic Reviews

Remarkably readable, this chronicle of lexicography roams from the great dictionary itself to hidden nooks in the human psyche that sometimes house the motives for murder, the sources for sanity, and the blueprint for creativity...Winchester’s own tone and his prose are wonderfully Victorian, an apt mirror for his subject.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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.

 

About Simon Winchester

See more books from this Author
Simon Winchester is the acclaimed author of many books, including The Professor and the Madman, Atlantic, The Man Who Loved China, A Crack in the Edge of the World, and Krakatoa. In 2006, Mr. Winchester was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He lives in western Massachusetts.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Travel, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Professor and the Madman
All: 9 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on May 20 2010

Remarkably readable, this chronicle of lexicography roams from the great dictionary itself to hidden nooks in the human psyche that sometimes house the motives for murder, the sources for sanity, and the blueprint for creativity...Winchester’s own tone and his prose are wonderfully Victorian, an apt mirror for his subject.

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Publishers Weekly

Above average

Imaginative if somewhat superficial work of historical journalism.

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Examiner

Good
on May 13 2011

This book provides insight of one man’s tortured mind and his contribution to another man’s magnificent dictionary.

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Star Tribune

Good
on Sep 05 1998

Winchester successfully integrates chapters recounting murder; the genesis of the idea for the Oxford English Dictionary; madness (...) and the 70-year process of creating the dictionary.

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AV Club

Good
on Mar 29 2002

Winchester skillfully fleshes out the tangential and sad story of Minor and Murray.

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Entertainment Weekly

Above average
on Sep 25 1998

Think of it as a stocking stuffer for the literary set.

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Booklist Online

Above average

The tale of their affiliation and friendship reads like a creatively conceived novel.

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BookIdeas.com

Good

It's a narrative filled with suspense and humour. And it's all true.

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Murphreesboro Pulse

Good
on Aug 24 2006

The Professor and the Madman is a great contribution to the growing popular history genre that keeps the story intact even though conservatively fictionalized.

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Mark Swaim-Fox 5 Sep 2013

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