The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary
A WASHINGTON POST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION FINALIST • The New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice • A history and celebration of the many far-flung volunteers who helped define the English language, word by word.
“Enthralling and exuberant, Sarah Ogilvie tells the surprising story of the making of the OED. Philologists, fantasists, crackpots, criminals, career spinsters, suffragists, and Australians: here is a wonder book for word lovers.” —Jeanette Winterson, author of Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
The Oxford English Dictionary is one of mankind’s greatest achievements, and yet, curiously, its creators are almost never considered. Who were the people behind this unprecedented book? As Sarah Ogilvie reveals, they include three murderers, a collector of pornography, the daughter of Karl Marx, a president of Yale, a radical suffragette, a vicar who was later found dead in the cupboard of his chapel, an inventor of the first American subway, a female anti-slavery activist in Philadelphia . . . and thousands of others.
Of deep transgenerational and broad appeal, a thrilling literary detective story that, for the first time, unravels the mystery of the endlessly fascinating contributors the world over who, for over seventy years, helped to codify the way we read and write and speak. It was the greatest crowdsourcing endeavor in human history, the Wikipedia of its time.
The Dictionary People is a celebration of words, language, and people, whose eccentricities and obsessions, triumphs, and failures enriched the English language.
SARAH OGILVIE is a linguist, lexicographer, writer, and technologist. Raised in Australia, she has lived and worked in both the United States, teaching at Stanford, and Britain. She currently teaches at Oxford University, where she develops and directs a new degree integrating humanities with technology.
Publication Date: 10/17/2023 - 12:00am
On Sale: 10/17/2023 - 12:00am