In the second part of the twentieth century there began to be a marked increase in the number of reference books available in bookshops. No longer was the reference library of the average fairly educated household restricted to one dictionary, probably dog-eared and several decades old, one out-dated copy of Roget's Thesaurus, either much-thumbed or pristine, according to the needs of the household, and possibly an old copy of Fowler's English Usage. This increased interest in reference publishing started with dictionaries and a great variety of these, in various shapes and sizes, began to be made available to the public. This sparked off an interest in other kinds of reference books. Existing ones began to be regularly updated and a whole deluge of new ones appeared. These included thesauruses, guides to good usage, guides to good grammar, guides to correct spelling, hints on how to improve your writing, books of idioms and so on. They also included a varied range of books of quotations. A quotation in the context of dictionaries of quotations is a piece of writing by someone, usually someone well-known, that seems so apt or memorable that other people refer to it in their own speech or writing. Up till that point, there had really been only one wellknown dictionary of quotations and this was the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Now many more became available and seemed to whet the public's appetite. Some people use dictionaries of quotations like this one simply for the pleasure of browsing through them. Browsing, after all, is one of the invaluable uses of reference books and a great deal of knowledge can be acquired in a relatively painless way when browsing. Browsers of dictionaries of quotations may find pleasure in identifying a quotation that seems particularly appropriate to some situation in their own lives. However, some people may use a dictionary of quotations, such as this one, for a more specific purpose. They may, for example, use a dictionary of quotations to find out the source of something they have encountered in their reading, or to check the exact wording of a quotation they halfremember. Many people use dictionaries of quotations seeking inspiration for a speech which they have to make. A quotation makes an excellent hook on which to hang an after-dinner speech, as many people have discovered.
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