OT: McKinley

mks at brisingamen.demon.co.uk mks at brisingamen.demon.co.uk
Thu Feb 19 13:19:04 EST 2004

On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 16:43:11 -0700, Robyn Starkey wrote:
>Does non-fiction still get copy-edited? I hear things about academic 
>presses doing away with a lot of editing staff, and when you read academic 
>books it is often clear that not a lot of money has been spent on editing. 

Oh yes (though not enough of it by me, obviously) but copy editors
seem to be under pressure all the time to get stuff done fast. I think
too that a lot of the newer copy editors are taught to do various
things but aren't really encouraged to enquire further than strictly

>I was complaining on this list about David Starkey's habit of starting 
>paragraphs with "But" a little while ago.
Lisa Jardine's books on Wren and the one before it (name escapes me
but it was about the group of London-based gentleman scientists of
whom Wren and Hooke were both a part) would both have benefitted from
tougher editing/copy editing. Her more recent book on Robert Hooke was
more solidly constructed. Another book I recently took a dislike to,
to the extent of spending Christmas Night on the internet, researching
various things he said, was Simon Winchester's book on the Oxford
English Dictionary. Admittedly this was fuelled  in part by being a
native of the city and having worked at the Bodleian myself, but he's
a graduate of the city, his son acted as a researcher there for him
yet certain things were simply inaccurate and should have been picked
up. And that was before we got to the various infelicituous turns of
phrase and casual dismissals of various personalities as well-meaning
amateur helpers of Murray's when they often had serious academic track
records. I bristled on their behalfs. 


Maureen Kincaid Speller
Folkestone, Kent, UK

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