The Dictionary People


by Ogilvie, Sarah | Non-fiction; Language
Published 07/09/2023 by Vintage Publishing
Hardback | 384 pages

SKU: '9781784744939 Categories: ,


‘Enthralling and exuberant … Here is a wonder-book for word-lovers’ Jeanette Winterson
‘A lively, entertaining, and illuminating read. I loved it’ Susie Dent

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 **
‘Utterly fascinating, entertaining, astonishing and as clever as a box of monkeys… I completely love it’ Joanna Lumley
‘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