Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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‘The Dictionary of Lost Words’ sold into multiple territories ahead of ANZ release

International rights to Pip Williams’ debut novel The Dictionary of Lost Words (Affirm, April) have been sold in multiple territories following this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair.

UK and Commonwealth rights (ex ANZ) were sold in a pre-empt to Penguin Random House imprint Chatto & Windus, while Italian-language rights were also sold in a pre-empt to Garzanti. Following these initial deals, US and German-language rights were also sold to Random House imprints Ballantine and Heyne Verlag respectively, with more territories expected to be announced in coming weeks. All deals were negotiated by Linda Kaplan of Kaplan DeFiore Agency.

Based on actual events around the compilation of the first Oxford Dictionary, Williams’ debut novel follows an irrepressibly curious girl collecting words dropped by her father and his team of lexicographers who are developing the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Williams’ first book, her 2017 memoir One Italian Summer (Affirm) was discovered in the slush pile.

‘We had high hopes for The Dictionary of Lost Words internationally, but these deals are way beyond our expectations and we are so delighted for Pip. It’s such a corker of a novel, and I know it will enthrall everyone who loves words and being swept along by an epic historical tale that resonates through the ages,’ said Affirm Press publishing director Martin Hughes.

Chatto & Windus publishing director Clara Farmer said: ‘Pip Williams’ magical debut novel about one woman’s life, growing up in parallel (and in close proximity) to the great Victorian—Edwardian endeavour of the first Oxford English Dictionary has completely captured our imagination at Chatto. Tender, tough, romantic and wry, Esme Nicholl is a heroine to win readers’ hearts. Pip Williams is a talent to shout about, and her novel is destined to be a favourite with lovers of books (and words) everywhere.’

The Dictionary of Lost Words will be published in Australia by Affirm in April 2020, with international territories expected to publish in 2021.


Category: Local news Rights and acquisitions