The Dictionary People: The unsung heroes who created the Oxford English Dictionary



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About the Women's Prize for Non-Fiction
The Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction is a major new annual book prize that celebrates exceptional narrative non-fiction by women. The Prize promotes excellence in writing, robust research, original narrative voices and accessibility, showcasing women’s expertise across a range of fields. The Prize will be awarded annually and is open to all women writers from across the globe who are published in the UK and writing in English.

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'Enthralling and exuberant ... Here is a wonder-book for word-lovers' Jeanette Winterson

'Utterly fascinating, entertaining, astonishing and as clever as a box of monkeys
... I completely love it' Joanna Lumley

What do three murderers, Karl Marx's daughter and a vegetarian vicar have in common?
They all helped create the Oxford English Dictionary.

The Oxford English Dictionary has long been associated with elite institutions and Victorian men. But the Dictionary didn't just belong to the experts; it relied on contributions from members of the public. By 1928, its 414,825 entries had been crowdsourced from a surprising and diverse group of people, from astronomers to murderers, naturists, pornographers, suffragists and queer couples.

Lexicographer Sarah Ogilvie dives deep into previously untapped archives to tell a people's history of the OED. Here, she reveals, for the first time, the full story of the making of one of the most famous books in the world - and celebrates the extraordinary efforts of the Dictionary People.

** A Financial Times, TLS and Daunt Books Book of the Year 2023 **

'Full marks to Sarah Ogilvie... guaranteed to grab those of us obsessed with books, language and mystery' Financial Times

'[An] astonishing book' Sunday Times

Touching ... The oddities [of language] enliven the book
' Observer *Book of the Day*

affectionate and accomplished book' TLS

'Engaging' Spectator

'Marvellous, witty and wholly original' Alan Rusbridger

'Glorious and surprising' Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian and author of Burning the Books

‘A fascinating and delightful exploration of the Victorian world … Wonderful’ Nicola Shulman, TLS Podcast

Product Details

£25.00  £23.75
Vintage Publishing
Publish Date

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