Monday 29 January 2024

The Dictionary of Lost Words

 Author: Pip Williams

ISBN: 9781925972597

Hi Everyone,

I had no idea what to expect from this book. I don't think I even read what the book was about. In this case, it was the title that took my eye first.

So then, what was the come of a book read totally by random choice?

I enjoyed every minute of it! Absolutely brilliant piece of literature.

There is a warning that comes with this purely because some of my followers are younger. That being that some of the words found by Esme are 'colourful' if I could put it that way :)

The whole point of 'The Dictionary of Lost Words' was that the choice of words being put in the Oxford English Dictionary were analyzed, and these words used by the women of the time in different social levels were being left out, eliminated, unheard, and lost. 

Esme collected these words and hid them in a trunk. It started with a single slip and ended with a whole lifetime of collected slips. The outcome of Esme and the slips are written in this historical fictional novel. Everything is interwoven so brilliantly that I continued to turn the pages and grew to envision Esme and her friends amongst the back-drop of the era.

Brilliant, just brilliant.


In 1901, the word ‘Bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the ‘Scriptorium’, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutters to the floor. Esme rescues the slip and stashes it in an old wooden case that belongs to her friend, Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.

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. While she dedicates her life to the Oxford English Dictionary, secretly, she begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Set when the women’s suffrage movement was at its height and the Great War loomed, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men. It’s a delightful, lyrical and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words, and the power of language to shape the world and our experience of it.

Description taken from:

Happy reading

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