Harper Academic

The Professor and the Madman

A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

by Simon Winchester

On Sale: 07/05/2005

Price: $16.99

The Professor and the Madman

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The Professor and the Madman

A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

by Simon Winchester

On Sale: 07/05/2005

Format:

Price: $16.99

About the Book

It is known as one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters. The creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, and organized the language into 414,825 definitions. But behind this extraordinary achievement lies a shocking story — one of madness, deception and murder.

Bestselling author Simon Winchester chronicles the twenty year friendship between Professor James Murray, head of the committee that supervised the OED’s compilation, and Dr. William Chester Minor, who contributed more than ten thousand words to the project. After years of correspondence, Murray discovered that the learned doctor was also a killer, incarcerated at an asylum for the criminally insane. The Professor and the Madman is an enthralling tale of insanity, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men.

Simon Winchester’s many books include The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, Krakatoa, and A Crack in the Edge of the World. Each has been a New York Times bestseller and has appeared on numerous “best” and “notable” lists. Mr. Winchester was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006. He lives in Western Massachusetts.

“The linguistic detective story of the decade.” — William Safire, New York Times Book Review

Critical Praise

“A brisk, gracefully executed work of popular intellectual history, a model of its kind.” - Washington Post

“An extraordinary tale, and Simon Winchester could not have told it better. . . . [He] has written a splendid book.” - The Economist

“Elegant and scrupulous.” - David Walton, New York Times Book Review

“There is much truth to be drawn [from The Professor and the Madman] about Victorian pride, the relation between language and the world, and the fine line between sanity and madness.” - Wall Street Journal

“Winchester combines a reporter’s eye for detail with a historian’s sense of scale. His writing is droll and eloquent.” - USA Today

“One of the great strengths of this book is historical mise-en-scene, particularly for nineteenth-century America and England...[a] marvelous work of historical and philogical imagination.” - Linda Bridges, National Review

“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.” - Kirkus Reviews (starred)

The Professor and the Madman...is the linguistic detective story of the decade.... Winchester does a superb job of historical research that should entice readers even more interested in deeds than words.” - William Safire, New York Times Magazine

“Winchester’s history of the OED is brisk and entertaining” - Mark Rozzo, Washington Post Book World

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780060839789
  • ISBN 10: 0060839783
  • Imprint: Harper Perennial
  • On Sale: 07/05/2005
  • Trimsize: 5.300 in (w) x 8.000 in (h) x 0.600 in (d)
  • Pages: 288
  • List Price: $16.99
  • BISAC1 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Historical
  • BISAC2 : HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
  • BISAC3 : BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Literary