"Caught in the Web of Words" by K.M. Elisabeth       Murray

Caught in the Web of Words James Murray and the Oxford English Dictionary K.M. Elisabeth Murray

Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
08 Feb 2001
ISBN:
9780300089196
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
400 pages: 197 x 127mm
Illustrations:
26 b-w illus.

This unique and celebrated biography describes how a largely self-educated boy from a small village in Scotland entered the world of scholarship and became the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary and a great lexicographer. It also provides an absorbing account of how the dictionary was written, the personalities of the people working on it, and the endless difficulties that nearly led to the whole enterprise being abandoned.

“It is a magnificent story of a magnificent man, one of the finest biographies of the twentieth century, as its subject was one of the finest human beings of the nineteenth.” —Anthony Burgess

“A moving and dramatic story . . . sometimes tragic, often comic, ultimately triumphant.” —Times (London)

“A biography that possesses many of the virtues of James Murray himself—grace, humor, intelligence, curiosity, and scholarship.” —Time

“In her vivid biography, Murray’s granddaughter brings his remarkable personality to life, and provides an unexpectedly fascinating account of the OED’s long and difficult birth.” —Times Literary Supplement

“A gripping, engaging story; endearing, too. The daily round of a big Victorian family, with its jokes, games, and treasured seaside holidays, is entrancingly evoked.” —Sunday Times (London)

"As well as presenting a detailed account of big family Victorian life, Murray gives us an entertaining and endearing picture of a man whose energy, faith and simple humanity have not been sufficiently recognised."?Colin Donald, The Scotsman 


"A biography that possesses many of the virtues of James Murray himself?grace, humor, intelligence, curiosity, and scholarship."?Time  


"In her vivid biography, Murray's granddaughter brings his remarkable personality to life, and provides an unexpectedly fascinating account of the OED's long and difficult birth."?Times Literary Supplement 


"Exciting as any novel, this is a book not to be missed."?Expository Times   


"A primary source-book for any historian of lexicography."?N. E. Osselton, International Journal of Lexicography


?It is a magnificent story of a magnificent man, one of the finest biographies of the twentieth century, as its subject was one of the finest human beings of the nineteenth.??Anthony  Burgess 


?A gripping, engaging story; endearing, too. The daily round of a big Victorian family, with its jokes, games, and treasured seaside holidays, is entrancingly evoked.??Sunday Times (London) 


?A biography that possesses many of the virtues of James Murray himself?grace, humor, intelligence, curiosity, and scholarship.??Time  


?In her vivid biography, Murray?s granddaughter brings his remarkable personality to life, and provides an unexpectedly fascinating account of the OED?s long and difficult birth.??Times Literary Supplement


"A thoroughly beguiling biography of . . . James A. H. Murray, the editor in chief of the great Oxford English Dictionary"?Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times


"A touching, honest, courteous and anecdotally vivid life of James Murray by his granddaughter K. M. Elisabeth Murray. . . . A biography which it would be odd to be thrilled by. . . . Full of bizarre incidents, magnificent eccentrics, sweet absurdities and delightful photographs."?Christopher Ricks, New York Times Book Review


"This hero is James Murray . . . and the biography has been written, with a skill and scholarship of which Murray himself would have approved, by his granddaughter. . . . His story is an astonishing one."?C. P. Snow, Financial Times


"A well-documented, charming and intelligent biography, . . . several first-rate photographs and the biography as a whole give a rare glimpse of an extremely vital Victorian life."?Raymond Sokolov, Newsweek


"This book provides a wealth of information about an important figure and should be a useful addition to any library."?Library Journal


"To those who think that compiling a dictionary is a mere matter of making lists of words, defining them and giving examples, K. M. Elizabeth Murray's life of her grandfather, Caught in a Web of Words, will open up a new world. Certainly I have read no more fascinating book for some time."?David Holloway, London Daily Telegraph


"A remarkable man, presented to us in a book of permanent value."?Wall Street Journal


"Anyone who speaks the English language owes a tremendous debt to Sir James A. H. Murray: relatively obscure, until the publication of this brilliant biography by his granddaughter, he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford English Dictionary. The author has carefully researched and sensitively presented the life of her grandfather, especially the early years and family life, the complexities of his Herculean task, and the many space, time, and money difficulties that continually threatened to scuttle the project. . . . The dictionary is the greatest dictionary of modern times, and this life of both the dictionary and the man deserves to be in every sizeable library in the country."?Choice


"Murray's life makes a story of extraordinary interest, and it is splendidly told."?Denis Donoghue, New York Review of Books


"The pleasure of Elisabeth Murray's book lies not only in her absorbing account of the Dictionary, but even more in her portrayal of her grandfather as an intellectually exceptional and humanely sympathetic figure."?J. M. Edelstein, New Republic


"Caught in the Web of Words is a quintessential Victorian biography. Rich in texture and sens eof place, the biography resembles a Dickens novel."?Samuel Pickering, Jr., The Virginia Quarterly Review


"This deft and affectionate account of a heroic scholarly feat, derived from a wealth of family and business papers, deserves the wide praise it received in the leading literary journals as soon as it appeared."?Richard D. Altick, Modern Language Quarterly


"[A] labor of love."?Publishers Weekly 


"The story of its (the OED's) preparation is one of the sovereign adventures of the life of the mind. It is told, beautifully, by K. M. Elisabeth Murray, Murray's granddaughter, in Caught in the Web of Words."?George Steiner, New Yorker


"A monumental work, and a model of biographical writing."?John Fischer


"With Elisabeth Murray's book in hand, it would be impossible to run our eyes down a column of the O.E.D. without feeling the deepest gratitude for James Murray and his life's work. Murray would have been proud of his granddaughter's biography."?Chronicle of Higher Education