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The Professor and the Madman: 2 Minutes Summary

1 SENTENCE SUMMARY: This captivating true story of a madman and a professor’s unlikely friendship, set against the backdrop of the making of the Oxford English Dictionary, offers an insight into the human capacity for compassion and understanding.

“The most powerful engines of progress are not ideas, but people and their dreams.” – Professor James Murray

Quick Info

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester Cover
The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester
Category: Biographies
Publish Date: 2005-01-01
# Pages: 242
ISBN: 0060839783

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The Professor and the Madman, written by Simon Winchester, is a captivating tale of two extraordinary men and their lives that were intertwined in the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

The book is based on true events and tells the story of Professor James Murray, a distinguished philologist, and Dr. William Minor, a surgeon and a convicted murderer, who both contributed to the dictionary in their own unique ways.

Through this incredible story, Winchester reveals the remarkable power of language and the fascinating history behind the making of the Oxford English Dictionary.

4 Key Lessons from The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

1. The Power of Persistence

The Professor and the Madman demonstrates the power of persistence.


Murray and Dr.

Minor worked on the Oxford English Dictionary for decades, with both men working tirelessly to ensure the success of the project.

It is a reminder that nothing of worth is achieved overnight, and that hard work and dedication are essential to success.

This lesson can help readers to stay motivated and determined to reach their goals, no matter how long it takes.

2. The Importance of Collaboration


Murray and Dr.

Minor’s collaboration was essential to the success of the Oxford English Dictionary.

They were able to combine their individual skills and talents to create something far greater than either could have accomplished alone.

This lesson teaches readers that two heads are better than one, and that working together can lead to amazing results.

3. Overcoming Adversity

The Professor and the Madman tells the story of two men who persevered in the face of incredible adversity.


Murray was determined to finish the dictionary despite the death of his wife, and Dr.

Minor was determined to contribute despite being institutionalized in an asylum.

This lesson teaches readers that it is possible to overcome any obstacles and achieve success.

4. The Value of Knowledge

The Professor and the Madman is a testament to the value of knowledge.

Both men were passionate about language and linguistics, and their passion drove them to create the Oxford English Dictionary.

This lesson teaches readers the importance of learning and acquiring knowledge, and the power it can have over our lives.

Who Should Read It

This book should be read by anyone interested in the history of the Oxford English Dictionary and the story of the two men who had a major role in its creation, Professor James Murray and Dr.

William Minor.

It is also recommended for anyone interested in word etymology, the history of lexicography, and the Victorian era in Britain.

Where to Get It

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About Simon Winchester

Author Simon Winchester Simon Winchester is a British-American author and journalist.

He is best known for his books The Professor and the Madman, The Meaning of Everything and Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories.

He has written numerous books on topics ranging from geology, to technology, to history, to language.

He has also written for a variety of publications, including The Guardian, The Sunday Times, and The New Yorker.

Winchester is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and has received multiple awards for his writing.

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