I am pretty sure I heard about this book when it first came out, and was interested, but never got hold of a copy, so when I found it on my DH’s shelves I was quite pleased. There are three main characters: the original Oxford English Dictionary, Professor James Murray, its major editor, and Dr. William Chester Minor, an American Civil War doctor who had come to Europe in the hope that the change of scene would help with his mental illness, but who ended up killing a man and being detained at Broadmoor for over 20 years. As a highly educated man with enough income for a large library and a wish to be useful, he was one of the most prolific contributors of early quotations and usages of words for the massive reading project necessary to the first edition of the OED.
All three are fascinating topics, although the major protagonist is Minor. The book is sympathetic to his plight without excusing his negative actions and their terrible results. It simply allows his positive actions to speak for themselves as well.