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The Dictionary of Lost Words
Written by:
Pip Williams 
Read by:
Imogen Sage 
Unabridged CD Audio Book 
Number of CDs:
12 hours 42 minutes 
May 01 2020 
Available Date:
May 01 2020 
Age Category:
Fiction; Australian Fiction; Historical Fiction; Literary Fiction 
Bolinda audio 
Bolinda price
NZD$ 44.95
NZD$ 44.95

Australian author
Debut novel
Better Reading Top 100 - 2024

Winner MUD Literary Prize 2021
Winner Indie Book Awards / Debut Fiction 2021
Shortlisted Walter Scott Prize 2021
Winner New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards 2021
Winner Australian Book Industry Awards 2021
Winner Indie Book Awards / Book of the Year 2021

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

Publisher Update: Based on listener feedback, we have updated the audio with corrected pronunciations. 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. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others – 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. 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.

‘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.’
Tom Keneally, award-winning author of Schindler's Ark

‘A lovely book.’
The Adelaide Advertiser

‘A thought-provoking celebration of words.’
Better Homes and Gardens

‘This is a wonderful debut novel … I even cried while reading it on the train.
Sarah L’Estrange, ABC Radio National’s The Book Show

‘A thoroughly original concept married to beautifully rendered characters, immersive setting and intensely satisfying storytelling – The Dictionary of Lost Words fulfils all the promises of the best historical fiction. Pip Williams’ meticulously imagined novel offers a portrait of an unforgettable woman – resilient, humble, generous, self-knowing and always strong-spined – who invents a provocative solution to the too frequent exclusion of women’s lives and cares from the official register.
Melissa Ashley, author of The Birdman’s Wife and The Bee and the Orange Tree