Simon Winchester

Literary Birthday – 28 September – Simon Winchester

Happy Birthday, Simon Winchester, born 28 September 1944.


  1. The best spur for me is a commission and a deadline.
  2. Any grand new dictionary ought itself to be a democratic product, a book that demonstrated the primacy of individual freedoms, of the notion that one could use words freely, as one liked, without hard and fast rules of lexical conduct.
  3. As a writer, you are going to confronted with a bewildering world of fascinations—so never become jaded or world-weary, and always think of your calling as a privilege. You’ll never get rich: but you’ll have a fulfilled and valuable life, doing something that is eminently worthwhile.
  4. This may sound silly, but I attach a little counter to the corner of my computer so I know I have to produce, say, 100,000 words by December. If I’m ahead one day, I take a break; if I’m behind, I keep working.
  5. The best way of telling a story is telling it out loud.
  6. I do as much bookish research as I can but when I sit down to write, often I think, ‘Wait, I was there.’ That is one of the great advantages of having wandered around the world and lived in so many places and met such fascinating people.
  7. I’ve come to accept who my readers turn out to be, rather than having some sort of demographic target.

Simon Winchester is a British-American author and journalist who lives mostly in the United States. Through his career at The Guardian, Winchester covered numerous significant events including Bloody Sunday and the Watergate Scandal. His books include The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary and The Men Who United the States.


Wes Washington, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 28th September 2012