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The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary

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9780140271287: The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary
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The making of the Oxford English Dictionary was a monumental 50 year task requiring thousands of volunteers. One of the keenest volunteers was a W C Minor who astonished everyone by refusing to come to Oxford to receive his congratulations. In the end, James Murray, the OED's editor, went to Crowthorne in Berkshire to meet him. What he found was incredible - Minor was a millionaire American civil war surgeon turned lunatic, imprisoned in Broadmoor Asylum for murder and yet who dedicated his entire cell-bound life to work on the English language.

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Subtitled "A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words," this is a remarkable account of the life of W.C. Minor. Not a famous name, but a quite extraordinary man. Minor was an American Army surgeon and millionaire who contributed enormously by post to the first, epic edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) while hidden away in obscurity in Berkshire, England. As the author points out, the OED is the most important work of reference ever created, and, given the globalisation of the English language, is likely to remain so for centuries. But when in 1896 Sir James Murray, the formidable editor of the OED, at last travelled down to Berkshire to find this elusive lexicographer and thank him for all his work, he found Minor in Broadmoor: patient Number 742.

Minor was educated, gentlemanly, industrious, and a psychopathic killer, who had gunned down a man at random in the London streets because he believed his victim was an Irish terrorist after his blood.

Simon Winchester won't win any prizes for the elegance of his prose style, but he has dug up a strange and extraordinary life story and turned it into a compelling piece of historical detective work. He never really penetrates into the central mystery of Minor's madness, because no one can. The mystery remains, inviolable, and makes his tale all the more darkly compelling. --Christopher Hart

About the Author:

Simon Winchester has had an award-winning 20 year career as Guardian correspondent. He lives in New York and is the Asia-Pacific Editor for Conde Nast Traveler and contributes to a number of American magazines, as well as the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator and the BBC. He has written numerous books. The River at the Centre of the World (Viking 1997/Penguin 1998) has been shortlisted for the 1998 Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780708992043: The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary (Charnwood Library)

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ISBN 10: 0708992048 ISBN 13: 9780708992043
Publisher: Charnwood (Large Print), 2000
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9780141037714: The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder,Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary

Penguin, 2008
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9780140283679: Dormant:Surgeon of Crowthorne: a Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words

Pengui..., 2000
Softcover

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: new. Paperback. One of the keenest volunteers was a W C Minor who astonished everyone by refusing to come to Oxford to receive his congratulations. In the end, James Murray, the OED's editor, went to Crowthorne in Berkshire to meet him. What he found was incredible - Minor was a millionaire American civil war surgeon turned lunatic, imprisoned in Broadmoor Asylum for murder and yet who dedicated his entire cell-bound life to work on the English language. A book about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary and the love of words. It tells of the relationship between the dictionary editor and one of its main contributors (they were all volunteers) who corresponded for 17 years before they met - at Broadmoor. Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. Seller Inventory # 9780140271287

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. An extraordinary tale of madness, genius and obsession, discover the true story of the two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary - and literary history!The compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary, 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 of those words. But when the committee insisted on honouring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, a millionaire and American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane . . . charged with murder!_____________________'A weird and wonderful story of an eccentric friendship, and a slice of history' Sunday Times'What a revelation. Beautifully told and awe-inspiring' Daily Mail'Simon Winchester could not have told it better . . . a splendid book' Economist 'Masterful . . . one of those rare stories that combine human drama and historical significance' Independent. Seller Inventory # FOY9780140271287

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. An extraordinary tale of madness, genius and obsession, discover the true story of the two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary - and literary history!The compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary, 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 of those words. But when the committee insisted on honouring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, a millionaire and American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane . . . charged with murder!_____________________'A weird and wonderful story of an eccentric friendship, and a slice of history' Sunday Times'What a revelation. Beautifully told and awe-inspiring' Daily Mail'Simon Winchester could not have told it better . . . a splendid book' Economist 'Masterful . . . one of those rare stories that combine human drama and historical significance' Independent. Seller Inventory # AAZ9780140271287

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