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The Dictionary People


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About the Author

Sarah Ogilvie teaches at the University of Oxford, and specializes in language, dictionaries, and technology. As a lexicographer she has been an editor at the Oxford English Dictionary and was Chief Editor of Oxford Dictionaries in Australia. As a technologist she has worked in Silicon Valley at Lab 126, Amazon's innovation lab, where she was part of the team that developed the Kindle. She originally studied computer science and mathematics before taking her doctorate in Linguistics at the University of Oxford, and then taught at Cambridge and Stanford.


Sarah Ogilvie has brought to centre stage a gallery of remarkable characters quite as astonishing, hilarious, terrifying and beguiling as any found in Dickens. The “ordinary” people who helped create the Oxford English Dictionary reveal themselves to be anything but ordinary. At the back of it all we are reminded that words themselves are not abstract units of meaning, they are every bit as alive, elusive and enchanting as the people who devote themselves to their study. The Dictionary People serves also, incidentally, as a marvellous record of the incidentals, the daily details, manners and modes of 19th century life. An unmissable wonderful achievement.
*Stephen Fry*

Proof that not only do our words have extraordinary lives, but so do the people who have documented them for us. A lively, entertaining, and illuminating read. I loved it
*Susie Dent*

Utterly fascinating, entertaining, astonishing and as clever as a box of monkeys... I am bowled over by Sarah Ogilvie's book and every home should have a copy. I completely love it
*Joanna Lumley*

Who knew such mysteries lay behind the Oxford English Dictionary? This is a fascinating, unique and original book which uncovers the people behind the words. A jaw-dropping cross-section of society are revealed for the first time in all their complexity
*Janina Ramirez, author of Femina*

Exquisitely written ... A lively, funny book full of eccentrics
*Jamaica Kincaid*

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