Minor Omission

In 1879, James Murray, editing what would become the Oxford English Dictionary, issued an appeal inviting English speakers around the world to submit literary quotations for inclusion, as examples of usage, in the burgeoning work. A certain Dr. W. C. Minor, identifying himself simply as an American physician living near London, was among the first to respond.

Only after several years of correspondence did Murray discover that Minor -- the source of some 10,000 quotations -- was in fact an inmate at the Asylum for the Criminally Insane at Broadmoor, in Crowthorne, England!

[A former Civil War surgeon, Minor had retired from the army after a nervous breakdown and settled in London in 1871. A year later, paranoid and delusional, he murdered an innocent worker (apparently thinking he had broken into his apartment to poison and "violate" him). A Certified Criminal Lunatic, Minor spent most of each day in his room scouring his vast collection of rare books for quotations. In 1902, he attempted to "cure" himself of unwelcome sexual fantasies -- using the very knife with which he separated pages of first editions. He died in 1920 in an American institution.]

[Because book titles cannot be copyrighted, many dodgy publishers use Webster's name on their dictionaries. (A Webster's Dictionary is authentic only if published by Merriam-Webster.)]

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