• Stephen Bullon

    After keeping busy at school doing sport in preference to anything academic, I became a window cleaner in the French city of Nantes, where I spent a gap year. Returning to France after taking a degree in Russian, I taught English to employees of a major oil company and reached the semi-final of the French darts championship.

    Back in the UK, I stumbled across an ad for trainee lexicographers on the COBUILD project at the University of Birmingham, which led to a 14-year stint writing dictionary entries and playing cricket for the English department. I then spent eight years at Longman Dictionaries, and finally joined Macmillan as Dictionary Publisher towards the end of 2007.

    Away from the office, I spend as much time as possible in Sussex, walking in the country, growing vegetables, and enjoying the changing seasons.

  • Stan Carey

    Stan is a freelance writer and editor from the west of Ireland. A former scientist and TEFL teacher, he writes about language, words, books and more on his blog, Sentence first, and elsewhere. You can also find him on Twitter.

  • Sharon Creese

    I have a strong editorial background having worked as a journalist, technical writer and editor in fields ranging from the automotive and engineering industries, to finance, healthcare and education. As part of my Latin American Studies degree, I lived for a year in Colombia, working with a local children’s charity. I recently completed an Applied Linguistics Masters degree at the University of Newcastle, focusing on bilingualism among Spanish/indigenous-language speakers in Latin America.

  • Gill Francis

    After graduating from Girton College, Cambridge, I spent a year in Greece and the next fifteen living in the Arab world, apart from a two-year period studying Arabic at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, which I financed by teaching at a tiny language school in a Carnaby Street attic. During my wanderings, I taught at various institutes of learning in Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and finally Tunisia, where I lived in a series of crumbling beachfront houses in the suburbs of Tunis. Whilst there I met John Sinclair, discovered a bit about the delights of corpus linguistics, and acquired an M.A in Applied Linguistics from Birmingham. This led to my first proper job: seven years as a lecturer in the National University of Singapore. Then in 1991 I joined the COBUILD team in Birmingham as ‘senior grammarian’, and worked on projects including the three volumes of the Pattern Grammar series. Since leaving COBUILD I have worked freelance, moved to Bristol, got married, finally started gardening. My more recent publications have been in corpus linguistics (e.g Pattern Grammar, with Susan Hunston) and corpus-based resources (e.g Chambers Language Builder, 2008). My current project is Skylight, an easy-to-use online corpus access tool designed for teachers and learners (co-developed with Andrew Dickinson).

  • Orin Hargraves

    I’m an independent American lexicographer and author of books about English: notably, Mighty Fine Words and Smashing Expressions (the definitive guide to differences between British and American English) and Slang Rules! (a lesson book for English learners about American slang). Most of my working life is spent writing, editing, organizing, or supervising the writing of English dictionary definitions; I have contributed definitions and other material to more than two dozen dictionaries in the last twenty years – including the Macmillan Dictionary. Recently I taught a graduate-level course on lexicography at the summer institute of the Linguistic Society of America, and I also do research in computational linguistics at the University of Colorado.

    My entrée to lexicography was via ESL: I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco in the 1980s, where I taught English in a secondary school, and I also taught English to refugees and asylum seekers in London in the 1990s.

  • Finn Kirkland

    Having grown up in the sun-kissed archipelago of the Orkney Islands, my heart has always been in the north. A post-school year out in Norway strengthened the Nordic bond, leading to a degree in Scandinavian Studies at Edinburgh University, where I graduated in 2000.

    On the shocking realisation that this didn’t lead automatically into any particular profession, I spent 18 months in Valladolid, Spain, and a year in Sweden teaching English to a mixture of adults and kids, before joining Macmillan in 2004, initially working as a sales representative for Scandinavia, and, more recently, moving into the role of Business Development Manager.

    My interests centre round language and sport, and I’m always keen to try my hand at something new: from learning Maori to playing underwater hockey.

  • Jonathan Marks

    I was born and brought up in Leeds, which is about 60 miles from the sea, but I’ve lived for most of my grown-up life in coastal places – Hastings in England, Nynäshamn in Sweden, and first Gdańsk and now Łeba in Poland. I’ve also lived in Munich and in the north of Germany.

    I always wanted to be a teacher, but my ambitions to be a primary teacher in Britain failed the reality test. Fortunately I found out that there was something called teaching English as a foreign language to adults, and during a summer spent teaching in England, I met some other teachers who told me about a four-week teacher-training course – the distant ancestor of what’s now known as the Celta course. The month when I did the course was the last month before the course fee went up from £90 to £110 – the best investment I’ve ever made.

    I now work as a freelance teacher trainer, author and translator (from Polish, German and Swedish into English). My publications include English Pronunciation in Use Elementary (CUP 2007) and, with Tim Bowen, The Book of Pronunciation (Delta Publishing 2012).

  • Kerry Maxwell

    Several years of student bliss in the mid-eighties resulted in my getting a first degree and later an MA in Linguistics from Manchester University. Not quite able to tear myself away from academia, I then became a research assistant based at the universities of Manchester and Essex, where I spent several years among a team of researchers trying to convince the world that we could teach computers how to interpret and translate language as effectively as humans can. In 1993 I finally landed a ‘proper’ job with Cambridge University Press, contributing as a lexicographer and editor to dictionaries and other publications that people were actually likely to read.

    Two children later I finally decided I could cope on my own and went freelance, working as a jobbing writer and editor for any publishers who were kind enough to employ me. Somehow I managed to convince Pan Macmillan that I was capable of writing a book (the result is Brave New Words – and hey, every loo should have one!). Since turning freelance I’ve progressed from washing nappies to boxer shorts, but one constant in my life has been Macmillan’s BuzzWord column, which I’ve had the pleasure to write since 2003.

  • Beth Penfold

    Having graduated with a B.Ed degree in Literature and Drama, I became a primary teacher in Manchester and later an outreach worker for an inner-city young people’s project, with a focus on improving literacy and communication skills. I moved to Oxford in 1995 with my husband and qualified as a human resources manager, specializing in recruitment and training.

    I had the first of two little girls in 2003 and spent a couple of years being a full-time mum. When the boredom became too much and the charm of smelling of sick wore off I started work at Macmillan as P. A. to our director, and am now training in the dark arts of all things editorial.

    My hobbies are reading, exercising, cars and chasing small children around ball pools.

  • Liz Potter

    Like most people who write dictionaries for a living, I became a lexicographer by accident. My first loves were Italian and history, and after doing two degrees in various aspects of those subjects I spent several happy years working in Florence as an ELT teacher and translator, first in a flat with no bathroom but a fresco on the ceiling, then in one with a bathroom but no fresco. Back in the UK and working as an ELT course organiser, and as a translator and teacher of Italian, I was looking for a change. A friend spotted a job ad for bilingual lexicographers at Longman, I applied and got the job, and discovered something I had never suspected – that dictionaries are written by people like me.

    After two years at Longman I moved to COBUILD, where I worked on monolingual learner’s dictionaries. Since going freelance I have contributed to a huge number of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, including the Macmillan range of dictionaries, both in print and now online. Meanwhile I have continued to do some translating, materials writing and copy editing. For several years I wrote a weekly web article about English and am currently editing the Macmillan Dictionary Blog.

  • Laine Redpath Cole

    Raised in Africa, South … East; peaked in Asia, South East; maturing in England, South East. I was trained for journalism and drama (not of the ‘melo’ variety), but came out the other side of a student loan pay-off with six years of English language teaching in Taiwan under my sash. I have worked as a set-dresser in South Africa and a freelance editor in the UK. I have dabbled in playwrighting and VJ’ing, event organising and shop running. Right now I am a marketeer for the marvellous Macmillan Dictionary team. At night I dream of writing a rock-opera for puppets like that guy did in that movie. And living one day South West.

  • Michael Rundell

    I have been a lexicographer since 1980, after a not very brilliant career as an academic then English language teacher. I got into the dictionary business by accident, but I have been lucky enough to be involved in all the major developments over the last 30 years or so – and, as Macmillan Dictionary Online shows, this field is still developing in new directions. I worked for a time at COBUILD during the earliest days of corpus lexicography, then for over ten years at Longman. These days I divide my time between being chief editor of the Macmillan dictionaries and a director of Lexicography MasterClass, a company that runs dictionary projects and training courses in lexicography and lexical computing. I am the co-author (with Sue Atkins) of the Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography (2008).

    Apart from writing dictionaries, I train regularly in T’ai Chi, am learning Spanish when I get the time, and am active in local politics (as a member of an environmental group promoting sustainable development in Canterbury, where I live). I also like movies, walking, and watching cricket, and I’m the author of The Wisden Dictionary of Cricket (2007).

  • Kati Sule

    I studied English (Language and Literature) at Szeged University in Hungary and also trained and practised as an EFL teacher. In 1998 my husband and I moved to the UK and when the opportunity presented itself I decided to start a career in publishing. These days I work as Reference Publisher at Macmillan Education where I am mostly involved in digital projects.

    My interests in language include bi- and multi-lingualism, language acquisition and the influence of English on other languages around the world. I spend most of my free time admiring my two daughters’ seemingly effortless ability to cope with four languages and cultures (Dutch, Hungarian, English and French) and when I am not doing that, I try and do my best to pick up and read a book from the pile on my bedside table.