Sarah Ogilvie on The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary

OCLW welcomes Sarah Ogilvie, who will join Hermione Lee in conversation about her recent book The Dictionary People. She will reflect on her discovery of the 150 year-old address books belonging to Sir James Murray, the longest serving editor of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Therein lay the names and addresses of three thousand people around the world who helped created the Dictionary between 1858 and its completion in 1928. Sarah spent eight years researching their lives. Far from the learned elites, it turns out that most of these people were amateurs and autodidacts, and many more women than previously thought. They included female archeologists, astronomers and suffragists; inmates of psychiatric hospitals; vegetarian vicars; the inventor of the tennis net adjuster; three murderers, a pornography collector, and a cocaine addict found dead in a railway station lavatory. This is a story of devotion and obsession that shines a light on many lives previously unknown and unsung.