book cover of The Dictionary of Lost Words
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The Dictionary of Lost Words

(2021)
A novel by

 
 
'An enchanting story about love, loss and the power of language' Elizabeth Macneal, author of The Doll Factory

Sometimes you have to start with what's lost to truly find yourself...

Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood at her father's feet as he and his team gather words for the very first
Oxford English Dictionary.

One day, she sees a slip of paper containing a forgotten word flutter to the floor unclaimed.

And so Esme begins to collect words for another dictionary in secret:
The Dictionary of Lost Words. But to do so she must journey into a world on the cusp of change as the Great War looms and women fight for the vote. Can the power of lost words from the past finally help her make sense of her future?

'A brilliant book about women and words - tender, moving and profound' Jacqueline Wilson

Readers LOVE The Dictionary of Lost Words:

'If you only read one book this year, let it be this one!'
'If you're a fan of The Binding and The Betrayals you will surely love this'
'A glorious combination of words, growing up, friendship, love, feminism and so much more'
'The best love letter to words and language'
'This book broke my heart ... I highly recommend it to any historical fiction fans ... it's one I will be reading again'
Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"What a compelling, fresh look at historical women! In Pip Williams’s lyrically written novel, The Dictionary of Lost Words, readers explore the creation of the so-called definitive Oxford English Dictionary through the eyes of Esme, a fictional female laborer on that great endeavor, and as her eyes open to the flaws and gender biases in the selection of included words and the definitions themselves, so do readers’. This marvelous exploration into the ways in which spoken and written language impact us is a delight and an education." - Marie Benedict

"Inspired by a wisp of fact—a single word accidentally omitted from the Oxford English Dictionary—Pip Williams has spun a marvelous fiction about the power of language to elevate or repress. This is a novel that brings to light not only lost words but the lost stories of women’s lives. It is at once timely and timeless." - Geraldine Brooks

"What a novel of words, their adventure, and their capacity to define and, above all, challenge the world. There will not be this year a more original novel published. I just know it." - Thomas Keneally

"This charming, inventive, and utterly irresistible novel is the story we all need right now. Words have never mattered more, as Pip Williams illuminates in her unforgettable debut." - Susan Wiggs

"In the annals of lexicography, no more imaginative, delightful, charming, and clever book has yet been written. And if by writing it Pip Williams has gently rapped my knuckles for wrongly supposing that only white English men led the effort to corral and codify our language, then I happily accept the scolding. Her wonderfully constructed story has helped entirely change my mind." - Simon Winchester


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