A letter from Dr Murray: commemorating the centenary of Murray’s death
26 July 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of James Murray, the first Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. To commemorate this centenary, we are reproducing an autobiographical letter Murray wrote in 1903. You can also discover more about Murray’s life in an occasional series of articles about Murray’s life which we are publishing throughout 2015.
James Murray started work on the Oxford English Dictionary when he was employed as a schoolmaster at Mill Hill School in London. He worked on the dictionary from an iron room (which he called his Scriptorium) erected in the garden of his house next to the school. When Murray left Mill Hill for Oxford in 1885, he gave the Scriptorium to the school as a reading room, but it sadly burned down in 1902. The following year a replacement reading room was built at the school, and was to be opened by Dr Bryce (later Lord Bryce).
Murray wrote this autobiographical letter to Dr Bryce, after Dr Bryce requested information about Murray’s life for the opening ceremony. The letter was found amongst Bryce’s papers in the 1950s and was previously published in the Bodleian Library Record, May 1956.
Hover over underlinings in this annotated letter for further details or links to more information.