Hitchings offers us a highly entertaining guided tour...anyone interested in dictionaries, Dr Johnson or the English language will surely spend many happy hours with this book The Independent Ingenious and fascinating The Sunday Times Excellent. Daily Express Immensely enjoyable, easily erudite Scotland On Sunday I can warmly recommend Henry Hitching's book...affectionate in its portrayal of Johnson, the book itself is immensely likeable, written with serious intent and gentle good humour. Spectator Lively and entertaining Observer A pleasant stroll, with a genial guide, through Johnson's life The Independent on Sunday Clever, wittily-written and amusingly-arranged The Guardian A rich, lively and attractive book. The Times Literary Supplement Hitchings writes with Johnsonian clarity and verve ... This is a charming book Evening Standard 'A clever, sympathetic and witty sketch of both man and book.' Waterstones Books Quarterly 'A goldmine of pleasures...Hitchings has an infectious relish for words' - Phil Baker Sunday Times 'Full of elegance and nail-on-the-head wit' Sunday Telegraph 'Hitchings has produced an absorbing account of Johnson's Dictionary that is as likeable as it is learned' Independent 'Full of serendipitous felicities' Times Higher Education Supplement 'Hitchings excellent book is both a great potted guide to the dictionary and its creation, and a marvellous biography of Johnson...A must-have for devotees of the English Language' Observer 'Excellent... Hitching's book is full of serendipitous felicities' David Nokes, Times Higher Educational Supplement 'In [Johnson's] description of "dull" he writes: "Not exhilarating; not delightful; as, to make dictionaries is dull work." Nobody could describe Hitching's book as dull' Colin Waters, Sunday Herald 'This story is a pleasurable stroll through Johnson's life, and combines elements of biography with social history and an examination of Johnson's concerns, illustrated by examples from the great work itself.' Irish Times 'Memorable passages on a range of fascinating subjects.' The Good Book Guide 'An engaging profile of one of London's great characters' Time Out, Tom Howard 'Henry Hitchings (a fine 18th-century name that) is a remarkable young scholar of the age of Johnson, and his DR JOHNSON'S DICTIONARY, arranged alphabetically like the eponymous original whose 250th anniversary it celebrates, offers an entertaining window on this most fascinating character and his times' BBC History Magazine 'Entertaining study...The great strength of Hitching's book is the compliment he pays to Johnson by so lavishly quoting from the Dictionary' Sunday Telegraph 'Hitchings has written a lively and appetite-whetting biography of the great book itself...one of the most fascinating and influential literary endeavours in the history of English literature' Herald 'Henry Hitchings' book on Samuel Johnson's mighty Dictionary is so good, so apposite, so chewy and edible, that I felt as if I were rereading it on my first pass' Will Self, New Statesman 'Hugely entertaining, it's a real treat for word lovers' Sainsburys Magazine 'The author is to be congratulated on narrating the drudgery of the dictionary's compilation so engagingly' Evening Standard 'The author has followed ably in the footsteps of his subject, producing a witty and learned book on a man whose work shaped, and continues to shape, the way we speak and think' The Good Book Guide 'An extraordinary read' Venue 'This is a delightful book about an extraordinary man. I suspect Dr Johnson himself would have approved... and there's no greater praise than that' John Humphrys 'A lively and appetite-whetting biography of the great book' Herald 'Henry Hitchings's book is lively, erudite and enriched with colourful anecdotes - a masterful account of one of the greatest literary triumphs of the eighteenth century' Giles Milton 'Engaging' Literary Review 'This is a delightful book about an extraordinary man. I suspect Dr Johnson himself would have approved ... and there's no greater praise than that' John Humphreys
Communication is essential to our lives, but how often do we stop to think about where the words we use have come from? Have you ever thought about which words in English have been borrowed from Arabic, French or Dutch? Try admiral, landscape and marmalade just for starters. The Secret Life of Words is a wide-ranging account not only of the history of English, but also of how words witness history, reflect social change and remind us of our turbulent past. Henry Hitchings delves into our promiscuous language and reveals how and why it has absorbed words from more than 350 other languages -- many originating from the most unlikely of places, such as shampoo from Hindi and kiosk from Turkish. From the Norman Conquest to the present day, Hitchings narrates the story of English as an archive of our human experience and uncovers the secrets behind everyday words. This is a celebration of our language; after reading it, you will never again take the words we use for granted.