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Academic Insights for the Thinking World


Learning about lexicography: A Q&A with Peter Gilliver (Part 1)

Peter Gilliver has been an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary since 1987, and is now one of the Dictionary’s most experienced lexicographers; he has also contributed to several other dictionaries published by OUP. In addition to his lexicographical work, he has been writing and speaking about the history of the OED for over fifteen years. In this two part Q&A, we learn more about how his passion for lexicography inspired him.

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You have to read Henry Green

Henry Green is renowned for being a “writer’s-writer’s writer” and a “neglected” author. The two, it would seem, go hand in hand, but neither are quite true. This list of reasons to read Henry Green sets out to loosen the inscrutability of the man and his work.

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Big data in the nineteenth century

Initially, they had envisaged dozens of them: slim booklets that would handily summarize all of the important aspects of every parish in Ireland. It was the 1830s, and such a fantasy of comprehensive knowledge seemed within the grasp of the employees of the Ordnance Survey in Ireland.

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The library – 100 years from now

I want to live to be 100 years old. Yes, that is a bold statement, and I’ll admit this goal may be a bit unrealistic and potentially impossible, but my curiosity pushes me to beat the laws of nature. As a 22-year-old avid reader working for a publishing company, I can’t help but wonder: what will be the future of the printed book? Since the creation of the world wide web by Tim Burners-Lee in 1989 and it’s continual expansion since then, this question has haunted the publishing industry, raising profound questions about the state of the industry and the printed book.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s contemporaries and collaborators [infographic]

While it is obvious that Shakespeare drew a tremendous amount of inspiration from Christopher Marlowe (note the effect of The Jew of Malta, Hero and Leander, and Tamburlaine on The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, and Shakespeare’s history plays, respectively), this kind of borrowing and […]

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Beyond business and the book fair: exploring Frankfurt

The world’s biggest book fair is opening its doors soon and, as a native “Frankfurter” working in the publishing industry, it’s the time of year that my colleagues start asking me about my hometown. Sadly, the most common thing I hear is that there is little that they know beyond Frankfurt airport and the exhibition centre.

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What do the classics do for you?

This week, Oxford University Press (OUP) and The Reader announced an exciting new partnership, working together to build a core classics library and to get great literature into the hands of people who need it most, with the Oxford World’s Classics series becoming The Reader’s “house brand” for use in their pioneering Shared Reading initiatives.

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Virginia Woolf: author, publisher, feminist

As a young woman, Virginia Woolf toured London’s National Portrait Gallery and grieved to find that almost all the portraits in the collection were of men. Woolf was so resentful that she later refused to sit for a drawing commissioned by the gallery, seemingly renouncing an opportunity to add her own portrait to its walls.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare and performance: the 16th century to today [infographic]

In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Shakespeare’s plays were performed at professional playhouses such as the Globe and the Rose, as well as at the Inns of Court, the houses of noblemen, and at the Queen’s palace. In fact, the playing company The Queen’s Men was formed at the express command of Elizabeth I to […]

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The old age of the world

At the home of the world’s most authoritative dictionary, perhaps it is not inappropriate to play a word association game. If I say the word ‘modern’, what comes into your mind? The chances are, it will be some variation of ‘new’, ‘recent’, or ‘contemporary’.

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The Found Voice_9780198752998

Coetzee’s Dialogues: Who says who we are?

Throughout his career, J. M Coetzee has been centrally preoccupied with how to tell the truth of an individual life, most of all, how to find the appropriate narrator and fictional genre. Many of his fifteen novels disclose first person narrators in a confessional mode, and so it is not altogether surprising that his latest book is a dialogue with a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, in which they explore together notions of selfhood, repression, disclosure and the nature of communication.

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Remembering H.D. on her 130th birth anniversary

American-born, British citizen by an ill-fated marriage, the modernist writer Hilda Doolittle (H.D.) was wary of nationalism, which she viewed as leading inevitably to either war or imperialism. Admittedly, she felt—as she wrote of one of her characters—“torn between anglo-philia and anglo-phobia,” and like all prominent modernists of her day, her views were probably not as enlightened as ours.

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Is Shakespeare racist?

Just as there were no real women on Shakespeare’s stage, there were no Jews, Africans, Muslims, or Hispanics either. Even Harold Bloom, who praises Shakespeare as ‘the greatest Western poet’ in The Western Canon, and who rages against academic political correctness, regards The Merchant of Venice as antisemitic. In 2014 the satirist Jon Stewart responded to Shakespeare’s ‘stereotypically, grotesquely greedy Jewish money lender’ more bluntly.

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Illuminating Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s clowns and fools [infographic]

Fools, or jesters, would have been known by many of those in Shakespeare’s contemporary audience, as they were often kept by the royal court, and some rich households, to act as entertainers. They were male, as were the actors, and would wear flamboyant clothing and carry a ‘bauble’ or carved stick, to use in their jokes.

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The OWC Podcast: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgments lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight. If Elizabeth Bennet returns again and again to her letter from Mr Darcy, readers of the novel are drawn even more irresistibly by its captivating wisdom.

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Fascinating facts about man’s best friend

Dogs have historically performed many roles for humans, such as herding, protection, assisting police, companionship, and aiding the handicapped. The tale of “man’s best friend” is a lengthy and intimate history that has lasted for thousands of years, and transcends modern cultural boundaries. Canines appear as poignant characters with symbolic meaning in mythological stories, famous works of art, and religious texts.

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