Born in Whanganui in 1923, Robert Burchfield was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, where he studied under C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. He became an English lecturer at the university before being appointed editor of the Supplement to the Oxford English dictionary in 1957. Between 1971 and 1984 Burchfield was the chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary; he also edited the New Zealand Pocket English Dictionary in 1983. He died in 2004.
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