Oh how I love the title of this book. The whole time I was reading it, I would broach the topic of books with other people in the hopes that they would ask what I was reading right now, and I could burst out with ‘A tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY!’ Trust me, it was a riot every time.
Winchester has done a fairly good job of unearthing the whole story behind the infamous OED, and relates it in a straightforward, scholarly manner occasionally tinged with humor. Even if you’re not a mega-nerd like me, this book is pretty easy reading. I tend to get bogged down in dates and names, but there are really only a handful of people involved here and I can cheerfully ignore the dates, because Winchester suffixes almost every date mentioned with ‘nineteen years after the project was begun’ or ‘thirty years after Minor had been committed’ so that I don’t have to keep track. Thanks, Simon.