The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Characters

Simon Winchester
This Study Guide consists of approximately 27 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Professor and the Madman.
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Dr. William Minor

William Chestor Minor lived from 1834 to 1920; he was an American Army surgeon and schizophrenic who committed a murder during a paranoid delusion which led to his being confined to the Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum. While in the Asylum, Minor made innumerable contributions to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Minor was born in Ceylon, or what is now known as Sri Lanka; he was the child of missionaries from New England, who were Congregationalists. He grew up with strong sexual appetites over which he had incredible guilt. He returned to the United States for higher education and entered medical school at Yale and finished school in the middle of the Civil War and joined the Union Army.

While in the army, he served in the Battle of the Wilderness, which had a profound, traumatic emotional impact on him. He was also forced to brand fugitive soldiers, one of...

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This section contains 811 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Study Guide
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