The Dictionary of Lost Words

The Dictionary of Lost Words

4.24 (11,343 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.

Esme's place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word 'bondmaid' flutter to the floor unclaimed.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women's experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 33mm | 525g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1784743879
  • 9781784743871
  • 3,193

Review quote

An extraordinary, charming novel... Williams pins a whole, rich life to the page * The Times * Poignant, perfectly paced... a beautifully nuanced work -- Eithne Farry * Mail on Sunday * Williams's satisfying novel animates a fascinating history and imbues it with a feminist slant, asking how words mean different things to men and women -- Patricia Nicol * Sunday Times * This lovely slice of historical fiction... A highly enjoyable resonant tale about the hidden and frequently gendered stories behind the words we take for granted -- Claire Allfree * Metro * An enchanting story about love, loss and the power of language, what gets recorded and what gets forgotten. Set at a time when women's voices were clamouring more than ever to be heard, it moved me greatly to think how history is skewed by those who hold power -- and how important it is that novels like this redress that balance -- Elizabeth Macneal, author or The Doll Factory
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About Pip Williams

Writer and researcher Pip Williams was born in London, grew up in Sydney and lives in the Adelaide Hills with her partner and two sons. Her debut fiction, The Dictionary of Lost Words, was the bestselling new novel of 2020 in Australia. Pip began writing the story when she delved into the history of the Oxford English Dictionary and discovered that the definition of the word 'bondmaid' had failed to make its way into the first edition.
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Rating details

11,343 ratings
4.24 out of 5 stars
5 45% (5,078)
4 38% (4,355)
3 14% (1,536)
2 3% (306)
1 1% (68)
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