Craigie, Mathews, and Watson: New Light on the Dictionary of American English
- Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America
- Dictionary Society of North America
- Number 8, 1986
- pp. 160-163
- Additional Information
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CRAIGIE, MATHEWS, AND WATSON: NEW LIGHT ON THE DICTIONAR Y OF AMERICAN ENGLISH ALLEN WALKER READ As is apparent from his headnote, the Editor expected differences of opinion about the essay, "George Watson and the Dictionary of American English," that appeared in the last issue of Dictionaries. The following is the response of Allen Walker Read, who was "on the scene" when the events took place. He went to the University of Chicago for the summer session of 1927, where he took the dictionary course usually taught by Sir William Craigie, but that summer by James Root Hulbert. As he was the only student in the class, it became a series of tutorials by Hulbert. Read then did three years of graduate work at Oxford University, under the supervision of Dr. C T. Onions, taught another year, 1931-32, at the University of Missouri, living next door to his revered mentor Robert L Ramsay, and in the autumn of 1932 returned to the University of Chicago at the invitation of Sir William to work on the DAE. In 1934 he was appointed Assistant Editor, along with M. M. Mathews. The following letters were written without thought of publication, but are here offered for the light they may shed on Mathews's essay. 160 Allen Walker Read161 January 13th, 1987 Professor Richard W. Bailey Ann Arbor, Mich. Dear Dick: For many months I have intended to write you about the contribution that M. M. Mathews wrote, printed in Dictionaries, No. 7 (1985), pp. 214-224. First of all, I approve of your printing it, even though I disapprove strongly of what he wrote. It is part of the record, in setting down his attitude. His animosity towards Sir William Craigie is palpable, and in my opinion grotesquely mistaken. He is using George Watson mainly as a foil, for in his day to day relations with him, he was patronizing and contemptuous. Watson himself loathed Mathews. My own version of relations on the DAE staff is contained in my letter of January 13th to James McMillan. He made enquiries of me, and that was my answer. I do hope that M. M. Mathews's false stories will not prevail. With all good wishes to you— Allen 162Craigie, Mathews, and Watson January 13th, 1987 Professor James B. McMillan Tuscaloosa, Ala. Dear Jim: I'm sorry I didn't reply before now to your request of June 4th for information about M. M. Mathews. I'll answer your questions as best I can. When he came to the University of Chicago in 1926 to get a Ph.D., Mathews found Sir Wm Craigie there with the project of the DAE and took Craigie's dictionary course. It was so much his métier that Craigie naturally asked him to stay on as a worker, being appointed later as "Assistant Editor." He finished all his Ph.D. work, including a dissertation and the examinations, and needed only a signature on his application. Both Craigie and John Matthews Manly, who would have signed, had left early for Europe, and no other professor in the Department would sign for him. Either they didn't like him (for he had on occasion been abrasive), or they felt it was none of their business. Therefore the proper time passed, and he missed out on his Ph.D. Craigie had warm relations with Harvard professors, and smoothed the way for him to go there to get a Ph.D. at that institution. From 1932 to 1934 he was supported by DAE funds to collect slips. I remember when big boxes of them arrived, for he was assiduous as always. He wrote another dissertation (the one on travelers) and got back to Chicago for staff work on the DAE. You might like to know about my relations with him. Another staff member, the eccentric Scot George Watson, had developed a dislike for him—a livid hatred, it seemed to me. He fed me (for I got there in the fall of 1932) tales of Mathews's shortcomings, and I was not as cordial to him as I might have been. Watson said that his only talent was the Allen Walker Read163...