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REMINISCENCES OF LEXICOGRAPHERS AGNES CARSWELL FRIES Beginning in 1928, Agnes Carswell Fries began a series of summer visits to Oxford, where she and her husband, Charles Carpenter Fries, supervised work toward an Early Modern English Dictionary. With the help of assistants, they removed citation slips for the period 1475 to 1700 from the file boxes collected for the Oxford English Dictionary. Once these materials had been shipped to Ann Arbor, work began on the Dictionary. (This work is described in some detail in the editor's essay, "Charles C. Fries and the Early Modern English Dictionary," in Toward an Understanding of Language, ed. Peter Howard Fries and Nancy M. Fries [Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1985] 171-204.) In September 1987, Agnes Fries agreed to be interviewedfor Dictionaries; thefollowing text has been edited, with her approval, from that interview. Dictionaries: Tell me about the time that you met the Craigies. Fries: Oh, we were at a conference of some sort in Louisville, Kentucky. We knew they were going to be there, but we had never met them. So when we went into the lobby of the hotel there was somebody that we thought might have been Lady Craigie, and we went up to her, and she was. She said that her husband was over there at the counter, and she shouted, "Wullie! Wullie!" right across that hotel lobby. And "Wullie" came back and met us. Later we visited them close to Oxford. The crossroad town near their new house was called Christmas Common, on top of the Chiltern Hills, which our children thought were Children Hills. The whole driveway from the town of Watlington at the bottom of the hill was paved with chipped flints. We had numerous flat tires driving up that road. Finally we decided to find a detour, because there's nothing sharper than small flints. They had built their own house—had had it built. It was a brick house, a one-level house, and a long driveway went up to 211 212Reminiscences of Lexicographers it. They invited all of their friends to present them with a tree to go along their driveway. The Craigies' housekeeper and her husband lived in a separate house on the place. One night when we were there they had something for dinner, and she told Matilda to heat it up for breakfast. So at breakfast time they asked Matilda where it was, and she said, "Well, you told us to 'eat it up— we ate it up!" The British at that time were very particular about where their lamb came from, and some people told us to get our lamb from Wales. But the Craigies had an address in Brittany, across the channel, where they ordered theirs. And they told us to order it there. Of course we did whatever they said. There was a big ranch sort of place beside them on the Christmas Common, and the people raised pheasants there. And they used to have pheasant eggs to eat every now and then. I don't think we ever had any pheasant birds, but we did have pheasant eggs. Dictionaries: Craigie was very supportive of Charles Fries bringing the Early Modern English Dictionary to Michigan. Were you involved in those conversations? Fries: Not in the conversation, but I was involved in the separation of slips, material from the large quantity of materials that they had for the big Oxford English Dictionary. We first worked at big tables in the old Ashmolean. They brought in these boxes full of slips. Charles hired a team of workers. Among them was Hereward Price. There was a woman on the staff—I've forgotten her name. She was not pleased at all when H. T. Price was hired. For some reason or another he was supposed to have been subversive anti-national or something. But nevertheless Charles kept him on, and it was from there that Charles brought him over here to the United States to work on some materials here. He wrote a book called Boche and Bolshevik. I think there might be a copy in the attic among the books up there. It was about his trip on Agnes Carswell Fries213 foot after...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 211-218
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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