Blogging the Bookshelf

Blogging my bookshelf – one book at a time

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"The Surgeon of Crowthorne: A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Love of Words", Simon Winchester

June 20th, 2009 · No Comments · English, History

surgeonofcrowthorneSynopsis: The story of the 70 year process of compiling for first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and the relationship between the primary editor, Dr James Murray and the most proflific contributor, the institutionalised and certifiably insane, Dr W.C. Minor.

My Take: A great read. An interesting story, engagingly told.

I was struck while reading this book at the similarities between the compilation of the OED and the development of Wikipedia. An army of volunteer, amatuer enthusiasts collaborating on the production of a substantial work of reference beyond the scope of any one man. Except that the OED took 70 years to produce and Wikipedia has taken just on six years. And people question the productivity effects of Web 2.0!

Highlight: The meanining of autopeotomy. Ouch – that’s a word I never expected to use in a sentence.


  • One of the few of this type of book that didn’t need extensive padding out.