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Readblog 1/27/24: "The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary" by Sarah Oglivie

"The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary"

Written by Sarah Oglivie

Published by Alfred A. Knopf in October, 2023

Snippet Read by Richard Coombs


"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."




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