Simon Winchester - Author

About the Author

Simon Winchester was born and educated in England, has lived in Africa, India and Asia, and now lives in New York.
 

Having reported from almost everywhere during an award-winning twenty-year career as a Guardian foreign correspondent, he is currently the Asia-Pacific editor for Condé Nast Traveler and contributes to a number of American magazines, as well as to the Daily Telegraph, the Spectator and the BBC.

 

Simon Winchester's books include Outposts: Travels to the Remains of the British Empire; Korea: A Walk through the Land of Miracles; The Pacific; Pacific Nightmare, a fictional account of the aftermath of the Hong Kong hand-over; Prison Diary, Argentina, the story of three months spent in a Patagonian jail on spying charges during the Falklands war; The River at the Centre of the World - A Journey Up the Yangtze, Back in Chinese Time, The Surgeon of Crowthorne, The Fracture Zone and The Map That Changed the World.

 

Photograph © Marion Ettlinger

Featured books by Simon Winchester

The Men Who United the States The Amazing Stories of the Explorers, Inventors and Mavericks Who Made America

The Men Who United the States The Amazing Stories of the Explorers, Inventors and Mavericks Who Made America

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2014

From bestselling author Simon Winchester, the extraordinary story of how America was united into a single nation. For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum - out of many, one - has been featured on America's official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become 'one nation, indivisible'? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses this question, introducing the fearless trailblazers whose achievements forged and unified America. Winchester follows in the footsteps of America's most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators. He treks vast swaths of territory, introducing these fascinating pioneers - some, such as Washington and Jefferson, Lewis and Clark being familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known - who played a pivotal role in creating today's United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. 'The Men Who United the States' is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.

Other books by Simon Winchester

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/05/2018

Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world? Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John `Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 08/05/2018

Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson.Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world?Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John 'Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America.As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Exactly How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/04/2018

Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world? Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John `Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?

Base Nation How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World

Base Nation How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/10/2017

American military bases encircle the globe. More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, the United States still stations its troops at nearly a thousand locations in foreign lands. These bases are usually taken for granted or overlooked entirely, a little-noticed part of the Pentagon's vast operations. But in an eye-opening account, Base Nation shows that the worldwide network of bases brings with it a panoply of ills and actually makes the nation less safe in the long run. As David Vine demonstrates, the overseas bases raise geopolitical tensions and provoke widespread antipathy towards the United States. They also undermine American democratic ideals, pushing the United States into partnerships with dictators and perpetuating a system of second-class citizenship in territories such as Guam. They breed sexual violence, destroy the environment, and damage local economies. And their financial cost is staggering: though the Pentagon underplays the numbers, Vine's accounting proves that the bill approaches $100 billion per year. For many decades, the need for overseas bases has been a quasi-religious dictum of U.S. foreign policy. But in recent years, a bipartisan coalition has finally started to question this conventional wisdom. With the United States withdrawing from Afghanistan and ending thirteen years of war, there is no better time to re-examine the tenets of our military strategy. Base Nation is an essential contribution to that debate.

The Alice Behind Wonderland

The Alice Behind Wonderland

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/10/2016

On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London. Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image-as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation-as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid than meets the eye. Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice. Acclaim for Simon Winchester An exceptionally engaging guide at home everywhere, ready for anything, full of gusto and seemingly omnivorous curiosity. -Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review A master at telling a complex story compellingly and lucidly. -USA Today Extraordinarily graceful. -Time Winchester is an exquisite writer and a deft anecdoteur. -Christopher Buckley A lyrical writer and an indefatigable researcher. -Newsweek

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/09/2016

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Pacific The Ocean of the Future

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/07/2016

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

Pacific

Pacific

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 22/10/2015

Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.

When The Earth Shakes

When The Earth Shakes

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Board book Release Date: 19/06/2015

Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis: headline-making natural disasters with devastating consequences for millions of people. But what do we actually know about these literally earth-shaking events? In this exciting launch title for Penguin Young Readers Group/Smithsonian Books, New York Times bestselling author, explorer, journalist, and geologist Simon Winchester tells the gripping story of what happens when the earth shakes, explodes, or floods. Winchester-who's been rattled awake by earthquakes in New Zealand, skied through Greenland to help prove the theory of plate tectonics, and even charred the soles of his boots climbing live volcanoes-looks at the science, technology, and societal impact of these inter-connected natural phenomena. Stunning geological and historical images from the Smithsonian, handy maps and charts, and on-the-scene photos from the author's personal collection richly support this compelling nonfiction narrative.

The Men Who United the States The Amazing Stories of the Explorers, Inventors and Mavericks Who Made America

The Men Who United the States The Amazing Stories of the Explorers, Inventors and Mavericks Who Made America

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2014

From bestselling author Simon Winchester, the extraordinary story of how America was united into a single nation. For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum - out of many, one - has been featured on America's official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become 'one nation, indivisible'? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses this question, introducing the fearless trailblazers whose achievements forged and unified America. Winchester follows in the footsteps of America's most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators. He treks vast swaths of territory, introducing these fascinating pioneers - some, such as Washington and Jefferson, Lewis and Clark being familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known - who played a pivotal role in creating today's United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. 'The Men Who United the States' is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.

Alice Behind Wonderland

Alice Behind Wonderland

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 24/05/2011

On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London.Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image--as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation--as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to "e;Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid"e; than meets the eye. Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.

Man Who Loved China

Man Who Loved China

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 06/05/2008

In sumptuous and illuminating detail Simon Winchester chronicles the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham, the brilliant Cambridge scientist who turned his eccentric genius on the study of China. In 1937 Joseph Needham fell in love with a visiting Chinese student. He soon became fascinated by China, and his mistress persuaded him to travel to her home country. Thus began his undying passion for the worlds most populous nation.Needham tackled one of the great, unanswered historical questions: Why did a nation that had invented so much and had enjoyed 5,000 years of flourishing civilization, fail to undergo an industrial revolution, and instead spend so many modern years mired in poverty and racked by instability and revolution? By the time he died, Needham had produced seventeen immense volumes on China, marking him as the greatest one-man encyclopaedist ever.Both epic and intimate, The Man Who Loved China tells the sweeping history of China through Needham's remarkable life. Here is an unforgettable tale by one of the world's inimitable storytellers.

A Crack in the Edge of the World The Great American Earthquake of 1906

A Crack in the Edge of the World The Great American Earthquake of 1906

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2006

A burgeoning new city is built on the dreams of the American gold rush. It is also built upon a landscape that has been stretching, sliding and breaking apart for millennia. In 1906 the dreams of this city came crashing down beneath the rippling wave of a horrifying earthquake that turned roads into great rippling rivers, that set buildings ablaze for days on end, that made homes collapse upon themselves. Simon Winchester's breathtaking story delves deep beneath the surface of the earth and explains to us why the world moves as it does; and breaks apart with such devastating results. At the same time he never lets us forget the human story: what happened in this new, seemingly blessed city on the 18th April 1906. As he vividly portrays the lives of the people who suffered and survived the devastation he also tells a universal story: the hubris of man as he ignores the warnings of nature and how we respond and try to understand the world around us. Compelling, moving and enlightening, Simon Winchester brings to light the world beneath our feet and through the story of this one terrifying event one hundred years ago, begins to make sense of our world now.

Crack in the Edge of the World

Crack in the Edge of the World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 04/10/2005

The international bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa vividly brings to life the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake that leveled a city symbolic of America's relentless western expansion. Simon Winchester has also fashioned an enthralling and informative look at the tumultuous subterranean world that produces earthquakes, the planet's most sudden and destructive force.In the early morning hours of April 18, 1906, San Francisco and a string of other towns were overcome by an earthquake registering 8.25 on the Richter scale, resulting from a rupture in the San Andreas fault. Lasting little more than a minute, the earthquake wrecked 490 blocks, toppled a total of 25,000 buildings, broke open gas mains, cut off electric power lines, and effectively destroyed the gold rush capital that had stood there for a half century.Winchester brings his inimitable storytelling abilities -- as well as his unique understanding of geology -- to this extraordinary event, exploring not only what happened in northern California in 1906 but what we have learned since about the geological underpinnings that caused the earthquake in the first place. A Crack in the Edge of the World is the definitive account of the San Francisco earthquake and a fascinating exploration of a legendary event that changed the way we look at the planet on which we live.

Krakatoa The Day the World Exploded

Krakatoa The Day the World Exploded

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/06/2004

Simon Winchester's brilliant chronicle of the destruction of the Indonesian island of Krakatoa in 1883 charts the birth of our modern world. He tells the story of the unrecognized genius who beat Darwin to the discovery of evolution; of Samuel Morse, his code and how rubber allowed the world to talk; of Alfred Wegener, the crack-pot German explorer and father of geology. In breathtaking detail he describes how one island and its inhabitants were blasted out of existence and how colonial society was turned upside-down in a cataclysm whose echoes are still felt to this day.

The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 True Stories from Around the World

The Best Travelers' Tales 2004 True Stories from Around the World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/02/2004

This title launches a new Travelers' Tales series, an annual collection of the best travel writing, to celebrate ten years of publishing the world's best travel writing--from Nobel Prize winners to complete unknowns. Many of these stories will be published for the first time in this book, while some will have appeared in other Travelers' Tales titles or elsewhere. But the common thread connecting them will be fresh, lively storytelling and compelling narrative to make the reader laugh, weep, wish he were there, or be glad he wasn't. These 25 stories cover the globe, from battling snakes in Costa Rica to probing your own relation to the caste system in India to charting your way through the oldest tourist trap in the world in Egypt to learning to cook an octopus in Mexico. The writers come from many countries, not just the United States, so the points of view and perspectives are global in reach. Themes are as eclectic as all of our books, including stories that encompass spiritual growth, absolute hilarity and misadventure, high adventure, romance, women's solo journeys, stories of service to humanity, family travel, and encounters with exotic cuisine.

Meaning of Everything

Meaning of Everything

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 13/01/2004

From the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and KrakatoaWriting with marvelous brio, Simon Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language and pays homage to the great dictionary makers from Samuel Johnson to Noah Webster before turning his unmatched talent for storytelling to the making of the most venerable of dictionaries The Oxford English Dictionary. Here the listener is presented with lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but sickly first editor Herbert Coleridge, the colorful, wildly eccentric Frederick Furnivall, and the incomparable James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent half a century as editor bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the minutiae of dictionary making, brings us to visit the unseemly corrugated iron shed that Murray grandly dubbed The Scriptorium, and introduces some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to the murderous W. C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption.The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument erected to a living language.

Krakatoa

Krakatoa

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 13/01/2004

Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, examines the legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa, which was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogot and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims, one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. Krakatoa gives us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event.

Map That Changed the World

Map That Changed the World

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 13/01/2004

From the author of the bestselling The Professor and the Madman comes the fascinating story of the father of modern geologyIn 1793, William Smith, the orphan son of a village blacksmith, made a startling discovery that was to turn the science of geology on its head. While surveying the route for a canal near Bath, he noticed that the fossils found in one layer of the rocks he was excavating were very different from those found in another. And out of that realization came an epiphany: that by following these fossils one could trace layers of rocks as they dipped, rose and fell -- clear across England and clear across the world.Obsessed with creating a map that would showcase his discovery, Smith spent the next twenty years traveling England alone, studying rock outcroppings and gathering information. In 1815 he published a hand-painted map more than eight feet tall and six feet wide. But four years later, swindled out of his profits, Smith ended up in debtors' prison. His wife went mad. He lived as a homeless man for ten long years.Eventually a kindly aristocrat discovered him; Smith, the quiet genius and 'father of geology' was brought back to London and showered with the honors that he rightly deserved. Here now is his astounding story.

Professor and The Madman

Professor and The Madman

Author: Simon Winchester Format: eBook Release Date: 13/01/2004

National Bestseller!One of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters, the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, and drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story. Professor James Murray was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon who had served in the Civil War, was one of thousands of contributors to the dictionary. But Minor was no ordinary contributor. He was remarkably prolific, sending thousands of neat, hand-written quotations from his home. On numerous occasions Murray invited Minor to visit Oxford and celebrate his work, but Murray's offer was regularly, mysteriously, refused. Finally, a puzzled Murray set out to visit him. It was then that Murray would finally learn the truth about Minor . . . that, in addition to being a masterly wordsmith, Minor was also a murderer, clinically insane - and locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics. The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness and genius, and the incredible obsessions of two men at the heart of the Oxford English Dictionary and literary history. Written with riveting insight and detail, Simon Winchester delivers a fascinating glimpse into one man's tortured mind and his contribution to another man's magnificent dictionary.

Outposts Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire

Outposts Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/2003

The reissue of a Simon Winchester classic In 1985 Simon Winchester, struck by a sudden need to discover exactly what was left of the British Empire travelled 100,000 miles back and forth from Antarctica to the Caribbean to visit the far-flung islands that are all that remain of what once made Britain great. His adventures in these distant and forgotten ends of the earth make compelling and often funny reading. With a new introduction and additional material in many of the chapters, this revised edition tells us what has happened while the author's been away.

The Surgeon of Crowthorne A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary

The Surgeon of Crowthorne A Tale of Murder, Madness and the Oxford English Dictionary

Author: Simon Winchester Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/06/1999

The making of the Oxford English Dictionary was a monumental 50 year task requiring thousands of volunteers. One of the keenest volunteers was a W C Minor who astonished everyone by refusing to come to Oxford to receive his congratulations. In the end, James Murray, the OED's editor, went to Crowthorne in Berkshire to meet him. What he found was incredible - Minor was a millionaire American civil war surgeon turned lunatic, imprisoned in Broadmoor Asylum for murder and yet who dedicated his entire cell-bound life to work on the English language.

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