The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary

ISBN : 9780192805768

Simon Winchester
288 ページ
129 x 196 mm
  • By the author of the hugely successful titles, The Surgeon of Crowthorne and The Map That Changed the World, another runaway bestselling book
  • Daily Mail Book of the Week
  • BBC1's 'Imagine' documentary, featuring the story of the extraordinary characters behind the making of the first Oxford English Dictionary, was watched by millions
  • The Meaning of Everything has been shortlisted for the Nibbies (British Book Awards) as history book of the year
  • 'teeming with knowledge and alive with insights. Winchester handles humor and awe with modesty and cunning. His prose is supremely readable.' New York Times Book Review
  • 'exuberant, serious, funny, short, full, entrancingly readable' Jane Gardam, Spectator'

'The greatest enterprise of its kind in history,' was the verdict of British prime minister Stanley Baldwin in June 1928 when The Oxford English Dictionary was finally published. With its 15,490 pages and nearly two million quotations, it was indeed a monumental achievement, gleaned from the efforts of hundreds of ordinary and extraordinary people who made it their mission to catalogue the English language in its entirety.
In The Meaning of Everything, Simon Winchester celebrates this remarkable feat, and the fascinating characters who played such a vital part in its execution, from the colourful Frederick Furnivall, cheerful promoter of an all-female sculling crew, to James Murray, self-educated son of a draper, who spent half a century guiding the project towards fruition. Along the way we learn which dictionary editor became the inspiration for Kenneth Grahame's Ratty in The Wind in the Willows, and why Tolkien found it so hard to define 'walrus'. 
Written by the bestselling author of The Surgeon of Crowthorne and The Map That Changed the WorldThe Meaning of Everything is an enthralling account of the creation of the world's greatest dictionary.

compelling reading. Winchester is excellent on the theory and practice of lexicography - Sunday Times

Irresistible - The Independent

Simon Winchester's book is a fascinating catalogue of political wrangles, logistical conundrums and personal battles that underlay the work's creation. This book is a delightful curiosity - Zoe Green, Daily Telegraph

Simon Winchester has told this story with a touch of human drama and with a true sense of the social history that surrounded the enterprise. - Stephen Wade, Contemporary Review

A lively and largely informative chronicle of a still-staggering enterprise - Helen Zaltzman, Observer


List of Illustrations
1: Taking the Measure of It All
2: The Construction of the Pigeonholes
3: The General Officer Commanding
4: Battling the Undertow
5: Pushing through the Untrodden Forest
6: So Heavily Goes the Chariot
7: The Hermit and the Murderer - and Hereward Thimbleby Price
8: From Take to Turndown - and then, Triumphal Valediction


Simon Winchester is the author of the bestsellers The Surgeon of Crowthorne and The Map That Changed the World. After studying geology at Oxford, he became foreign correspondent for the Guardian and Sunday Times, and was based in Belfast, New Delhi, New York, London, and Hong Kong. He has written for the New York Times, Smithsonian, Spectator, and National Geographic, and is a frequent contributor to the BBC. He lives in Massachusetts, New York.