Skip to content

Biblio logo: Used, Rare and Collectible Books for Sale

The Dictionary of Lost Words by  Pip Williams - Paperback - 2022 - from Amazing Bookshelf, Llc (SKU: 4205962)

The Dictionary of Lost Words

Click for full-size.

The Dictionary of Lost Words

by Williams, Pip

  • New
  • paperback
Condition
New
ISBN 10
1984820745
ISBN 13
9781984820747
Seller
Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 1 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Brooklyn, New York
5 Copies Available from This Seller
(You can add more at checkout.)
Item Price
$13.99$12.59
Drop Ship Order
$4.49 Shipping to USA
Standard delivery: 3 to 5 days

More Shipping Options
Ask Seller a Question

Payment Methods Accepted

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • PayPal

About This Item

Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, an Oxford garden shed in which her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Young Esme's place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word bondmaid flutters beneath the table. She rescues the slip and, learning that the word means "slave girl," begins to collect other words 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 in earnest 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 words will fill those pages.

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. Inspired by actual events, author Pip Williams has delved into the archives of the Oxford English Dictionary to tell this highly 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.

Reviews

On Apr 1 2021, CloggieDownunder said:
"Some words stretched so far back in time that our modern understanding of them was nothing more than an echo of the original, a distortion. I used to think it was the other way around, that the misshapen words of the past were clumsy drafts of what they would become; that the words formed on our tongues, in our time were true and complete. But everything that comes after that first utterance is a corruption."

The Dictionary of Lost Words is the first novel by English-born Australian author, Pip Williams. Ever since she was a little girl, sitting under the sorting table at her Da's feet, in the loftily-titled Scriptorium (the old iron shed lined with pigeonholes in the back garden of Sunnyside), Esme has loved words.

Under the direction of the editor, Dr James Murray, and with several other assistant lexicographers, her Da, Henry Nicoll was compiling a dictionary: the Oxford English Dictionary. The words, their meanings and their use in quotes came on slips of paper, to be sorted and debated (sometimes quite vociferously) and included or rejected.

"Whenever we came across a word I didn't know, he would read the quotation it came with and help me work out what it meant. If I asked the right questions, he would try to find the book the quotation came from and read me more. It was like a treasure hunt, and sometimes I struck gold."

The slips might be discarded, the word rejected if the definition was incomplete, or a duplicate. Esme hated the idea that words would be lost. And sometimes slips were dropped. Esme began to save these words. They would go into her Dictionary of Lost Words.

This unusual, inquisitive little girl wasn't going to fit the middle-class wife-and-mother mould. At school: "If all the children at St Barnabas were a single word, most would be examples of the main definition. But I'd be some rarely used sense, one that's spelled strangely. One that's no use to anyone." Esme was happiest when working in the Scriptorium.

Eventually, "I had a desk and would be given tasks… I would serve the words as they served the words." She later came to realise that words would not be included for various reasons, but the one that most troubled her was that the word did not appear in print, even if it was commonly used.

"I'm sure that there are plenty of wonderful words flying around that have never been written on a slip of paper. I want to record them. … Because I think they are just as important as the words Dr Murray and Da collect. … I think sometimes the proper words mustn't be quite right, and so people make new words up, or use old words differently."

But it was when she was exposed to a charismatic suffragette that she began to notice how the process was skewed against women, the poor and the disenfranchised. And if motherless Esme wasn't brave enough to take their type of militant action, her female mentor could suggest a less blatant way.

Williams populates her novel with a marvellous cast of characters: quirky, diligent, loyal, nasty, loving and wise, they're all there, and emotional investment in Esme and her friends is difficult to resist. She deftly demonstrates the power of words: sometimes, just one will bring a lump to the throat, a tear to the eye.

Her extensive research is clear from every page: so much interesting information, both historical and philological, is woven into this wonderful tale. Especially fascinating to any lover of words is the process of making a new dictionary, illustrating the reason it takes so long. Laugh, cry and incidentally, learn a lot in this brilliant debut.

This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Affirm Press.

Review this book and you’ll be entered for a chance to win !

(Log in or Create an Account first!)

You’re rating the book as a work, not the seller or the specific copy you purchased!

Details

Bookseller
Amazing Bookshelf, Llc US (US)
Bookseller's Inventory #
4205962
Title
The Dictionary of Lost Words
Author
Williams, Pip
Book condition
New New
Quantity-available
5
Binding
Paperback
ISBN 10
1984820745
ISBN 13
9781984820747
Publisher
Ballantine Books
Date Published
2022
Bookseller catalogs
Politics & Government;

Terms of Sale

Amazing Bookshelf, Llc

We are e-commerce based independent bookseller since 2016. We carry hundreds of new and out-of-print books at reasonable prices. Every item listed in our online stores is either shipped by us or Amazon. We ship internationally. You can also check our live listing on eBay!

About the Seller

Amazing Bookshelf, Llc

Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 1 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers.
Biblio.com member since 2016
Brooklyn, New York
Ask Seller a Question

About Amazing Bookshelf, Llc

We ship daily. All items sold are handled within 24-36 hrs. We ship promptly and upload tracking details on each order. Prime: Receive all benefits of Amazon Prime including 2-Day Shipping on eligible purchases. Asendia: made international shipping far less expensive, and easier to process!

Glossary

Some terminology that may be used in this description includes:

This Book’s Categories

tracking-