Murray’s postbox

Today is an important day of action in the History Matters campaign, so I thought I would write about a landmark which has a very special place in the history of the English language.
This postbox is unique in the UK. It is the only one to have been installed outside a private house specifically because the person living there sent so much mail. The individual in question was James Murray, the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. He spent thirty years sifting through words and quotations sent by hundreds of readers in his drafting of the hefty reference work, to then send them on to the publishers courtesy of this postbox outside his home at 78 Banbury Road, in Oxford. I first read about it in Simon Winchester’s The Meaning of Everything, and I was all happy to be able to go and see it this weekend. Geeky, je?

By | 2016-10-18T15:50:14+00:00 October 17th, 2006|Language|3 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Jemima October 17, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    Presumably this was in the days before business collections, which makes it sound as if James Murray was one of the first people to see the potential to use the Royal Mail so heavily for business. Is that right, do you know?

  2. GollyG October 17, 2006 at 9:36 pm

    That is geeky, but very cool. I wonder if I’d qualify for an off licence next door?

  3. J Henry Phillips October 21, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    A most readable book, The Professor and the Madman, also masterfully recorded as an unabridged audio you can listen to while driving, includes much insight into the development of the Oxford Dictionary. A former U.S. Civil War officer and contributor, confined to an asylum in England, sent in many contributions.

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