The Dictionary of Lost Words By: Pip Williams
In this remarkable debut based on actual events, as a team of male scholars compiles the first Oxford English Dictionary, one of their daughters decides to collect the “objectionable” words they omit.
“Delightful . . . [a] captivating and slyly subversive fictional paean to the real women whose work on the Oxford English Dictionary went largely unheralded”—The New York Times Book Review
“A marvelous fiction about the power of language to elevate or repress.”—Geraldine Brooks, author of People of the Book
Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and ever-curious, she spends her childhood in Oxford in the room where her father and fellow lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. While they work, young Esme begins to collect other words, ones that have been discarded or neglected by the dictionary men.
As she grows up, Esme realizes that words and meanings relating to women’s and common folks’ experiences often go unrecorded. And so she begins to search out words for her own dictionary: the Dictionary of Lost Words. To do so she must leave the sheltered world of the university and venture out to meet the people whose vocabulary will fill those pages.
Set during the height of the women’s suffrage movement, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. Inspired by actual events, author Pip Williams has delved into the archives of the Oxford English Dictionary to tell this original story. The Dictionary of Lost Words is a delightful, lyrical, and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words and the power of language to shape the world.