Dictionary of Lost Words, The

Williams, Pip

  10 Reviews

Given the large tracts of her childhood spent happily hidden under the sorting table adjacent to the lexicographers, it seemed inevitable that Esme Nicoll's life would be bound up with the publication of the first Oxford English Dictionary. Initiated in 1879 and completed in 1928, it is at the centre of this story with Esme's life playing out around its development, the rise of the suffrage movement and the horrors of WWI.

But Esme has something special to contribute to the herculean task of defining the English language - an abiding passion for the words discarded by the dictionary men, especially those relating to women.

Thought-provoking and original, this story immerses the fictional Esme into the world of the Oxford English Dictionary and the men and women in its sphere.

Comments from BDS Reviewers

"A fascinating story with a splendid mix of the literary and the realities of life, with fine writing, good pace and gentle sympathy."

"An innovative and compelling story."

"I found this particularly interesting as the author included actual characters of the Scriptorium, who were involved in collating words for the Oxford dictionary."

"It's a pretty easy read but a bit once over lightly for me. It did have a nice twist telling the story within the Baden Powell principles."

"Historically, a fascinating read."

"The development of language and the concept of feminine words has been a revelation."

"I think most would enjoy this book, although perhaps it's more for women. The history of the time particularly affected woman."

"The photos in the book support the story and make it very credible."

"This book would suit those who like a lighter read about a really interesting topic."



FERN 001
Enjoyed by almost everyone. Notes at the end were really interesting and relevant. Time needed to read book.
CHCH 395
Everyone loved this book, some said the best of the year. It is a larger book but very easy to read. The fiction and historical fact were woven together beautifully.
AUCK 071
Some members thought the book was too long, but worth persevering. Dictionary history fascinating and woven cleverly through the story using a mixture of known and fictional characters. So many topics to discuss, we could have continued for hours!
AUCK 335
Enjoyed by everyone. Very interesting historical context, well-drawn characters, skillful blending of fact and fiction, particularly with regard to the compilation of the OED. A gentle style made this easy to read while the questions it raises about gendered language, who makes decisions about language, whose voices are unheard, remain significant today.
AUCK 027
We all enjoyed it. Set the scene well - the author did a great job of weaving fact and fiction - very clever.
DARF 004
A real winner for the group. Almost everyone read and enjoyed the new words we all learnt. It brought up good discussions about the lack of women in history in general as well.
We found this original and captivating, covering a wide range of important issues in our recent history.
CHCH 487
TAUP 005
Great acclaim for this book. A true historical drama that provided readers with an emotive read, mixed with insights to people living and contributing to the development of the OED.
Thoroughly enjoyed by all.