The Oxford English Dictionary and the public

Image of Sir James Murray's red pillar box


The Oxford English Dictionary and the public: correspondents, criticism, and correctness

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 Tuesday 28 June 2022


 Zoom webinar, Online

  Booking required

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About the event 

In compiling the huge and comprehensive dictionary that became the OED, its chief editor Sir James Murray (1837-1915) was crucially dependent on contributions from volunteers and advisers, all of whom communicated with him by post. Many of their letters are now preserved in the Bodleian Libraries, where a selection of them is currently on display.

This session explains how the dictionary was made and explores how some of the vast number of letters received by Murray influenced (or failed to influence) the final work. Professor Charlotte Brewer and Dr Stephen Turton will look in detail at letters exchanged with famous writers as well as now unknown correspondents to discuss some of the issues Murray had to contend with in editing the OED, including whether words have a ‘correct’ pronunciation, when a new term should get into the dictionary, and how to write a definition when words fail.

This talk will not be recorded.


Professor Charlotte Brewer, Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Oxford Dr Stephen Turton, University of Cambridge

 Booking information

Booking is required. This event takes place online. The ticketing system will send you a confirmation and the zoom link the morning of Tuesday 28 June. All participants are asked to check their junk folder.


Zoom webinar, Online



This event is generously supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust.

The Helen Hamlyn Trust logo

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