Thursday, February 07, 2008

Birthday of Sir James Murray (1837-1915)

If you listen to the Word-Hoard podcast here every week, you'll know that Sir James Murray (along with Edward Lloyd) are dear old friends. Today's Sir Murray's birthday, so I thought I'd share a little info on him, thanks to Jeffrey Kacirk:

Scottish-born lexicographer, who was seldom seen without a book in hand in his parents' community of Harwick, in Roxburghshire. After determining farm life was not for him, Murray taught school and reared twelve children before moving in 1885 to Oxford, where he continued the most ambitious literary undertaking of his era. He attempted to realize the dream of Richard Trench, Herbert Coleridge, Frederick Furnivall, and other members of England's Philological Society, who several decades earlier had envisioned unifying the myriad English dictionaries into a single comprehensive work. Using hundreds of thousands of small slips of paper organized in more than a thousand cubby-holes in a shed behind his home, loftily called the "Scriptorium", he personally wrote, sorted, and edited nearly half of the entries found in the first half of the New English Dictionary. This project, which eventually became the Oxford English Dictionary, required over half a century and 16,000 finished pages - several times Murray's original estimate.

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