Susan Purcell

Location: Guildford, Surrey
About me...

About Susan Purcell:
I am a linguist in both senses of the word: I write and speak on the English language and linguistics, and I also speak three foreign languages. I am the author of ten published books on these topics, and am the editor of the Puzzler Crossword Solver’s Dictionary. I am a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists. I have given many talks over the last ten years to organisations including the Women’s Institute, Probus, U3A, the Society of Authors and the Royal Over-Seas League. I have also been interviewed on radio about topics as diverse as texting, new words in the dictionary, and clichés.

About my talks...

My talks are all stand-alone and I don’t need any equipment. I’m a former teacher and have a loud, clear voice. My talks generally last between 40 and 50 minutes, but they can easily be abridged or extended. My talks are light-hearted and entertaining as well as informative, and are suitable for all audiences. I am often available at short notice.


£75 plus modest travelling expenses if you are more than 20 miles from Guildford, where I live. I will travel to locations in Surrey, north Hampshire, and south-west London.

My Contact Details:

01483 303188

The Story behind the English Dictionary

These days we take dictionaries very much for granted, but the English dictionary is a relatively recent invention – Shakespeare didn’t have the benefit of a dictionary when he was writing Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet. We talk of THE dictionary, as we talk of THE Bible, as if there were only one, but there are thousands of dictionaries, and they’re all different. This is a light-hearted and entertaining talk, during which I will introduce you to some of the great dictionary-makers of the past, and will talk about how dictionaries have changed over time.

The Story behind Crosswords

Doing crosswords is a popular pastime, but there is a lot more to crosswords than you might think. I’ll start off by looking at the history of the crossword, and then, being a compiler and editor of crosswords myself, I will give you an insight into the ‘tricks of the trade’. Crosswords aren’t only about fun and killing time – the intelligence services have frequently shown an interest in crosswords, and so have revolutionary and subversive groups. This light-hearted and entertaining talk is suitable for all audiences, whether they do crosswords or not.

Susan Purcell Contact Details:

01483 303188

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