Listen to an excerpt from The Dictionary of Lost Words – a lyrical and thought-provoking celebration of words and the power of language to shape the world
More about the book!
Penguin Random House has shared an excerpt from the audiobook of Pip Williams’s delightful debut The Dictionary of Lost Words, read by Pippa Bennett-Warner.
Set during the height of the women’s suffrage movement and with the Great War looming, The Dictionary of Lost Words reveals a lost narrative, hidden between the lines of a history written by men.
The novel is 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.
About the book
In 1901, the word ‘bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
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.
Listen to an excerpt: