Dictionary book

“The Dictionary of Lost Words”

“You once observed that certain words were considered more important than others simply because they were written. you are good at it, my dear Esme: keep considering the words we use and record. »

I’m Betty Martin with “Martin’s Must Reads” and it’s an excerpt from the novel by Pip Williams The dictionary of lost words. The story begins in 1886 when Esme, a motherless seven-year-old child, spends her afternoons in the British Scriptorium with her father, a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary.

The Scriptorium is an ugly undulating structure on the property of James Murray, one of the dictionary’s editors. The novel follows the next forty years of Esme’s life, both her Dictionary career and her personal life of love and loss, all set against the backdrop of the suffragette movement and World War II.

Esme realizes that there are many words relating to women that are not deemed important enough to be included in the dictionary. She collects these words and stores them in a box which she labels “The Dictionary of Lost Words”.

The epilogue takes place in 1989 at a meeting to celebrate the publication of the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, sixty-nine years after the first. In her author’s note, Williams wrote, “This book began with two simple questions: Do words mean different things to men and women? And if they do, is it possible we lost something in the process of defining them?

If you are looking for a well-told story about the Oxford English Dictionary, then you must read The dictionary of lost words by Pip Williams.