In the days before the internet, writers used to develop passionate feelings toward the lexicographers whose masterpieces adorned their desks. In her diary entry for February 19, 1956, the young Sylvia Plath, then a graduate student at Cambridge University, writes: "Today my thesaurus, which I would rather live with on a desert isle than a bible, as I have so often boasted cleverly, lay open after I'd written a draft of a bad, sick poem, at 545: Deception...." Plath's attachment to Roget's was not merely Platonic. A week later, in the same entry in which she describes her famous first kiss with "that tall, dark, hunky boy" -- the poet Ted Hughes whom she would marry just four months later -- Plath confesses that she already has a lover, characterizing herself as "Roget's strumpet."
A century earlier, another Bay State bard -- Emily Dickinson - had also fallen for a lexicographer. In 1844, when the poet was a teenager, her father, Edward Dickinson, bought a copy of Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language published by J.S. and C. Adams of Amherst. Webster, who had lived in Amherst two decades earlier, was well known to the Dickinson family. His granddaughter, Emily Fowler, grew up in Amherst and was then attending Amherst Academy with Emily Dickinson. This was the last edition of the dictionary which the great lexicographer worked on before his death in 1843.