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Sir James A. H. Murray (Sir James Augustus Henry Murray) Biography

(1837–1915), (Sir James Augustus Henry Murray), New English Dictionary, The Oxford English Dictionary

British lexicographer and philologist, born at Denholm, Roxburghshire, and educated in local schools. After a period as a schoolmaster, he moved to London in 1864. He worked for the Chartered Bank of India until 1870, when he took a teaching post at Mill Hill School. Having joined the London Philological Society, he became a respected associate of those involved in compiling the Society's New English Dictionary, out of which developed The Oxford English Dictionary. His earlier publications as a philologist include The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland (1873). In 1879 the Clarendon Press at Oxford contracted to publish the New English Dictionary and appointed Murray as editor. He moved to Oxford in 1885. Although he estimated in 1884, when ‘A–Ant’ was published as the first part, that it might be completed by 1896, it was not until 1928 that C. T. Onions and William Craigie finally finished the main text. In terms of the methodology he developed, The Oxford English Dictionary is largely Murray's creation; as the ‘Historical Introduction’ to the OED states, ‘to Murray belongs the credit for giving it, at the outset, a form which proved to be adequate to the end’. Caught in the Web of Words (1977) is a biography by his grand-daughter, K. M. E. Murray. He was knighted in 1908.

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