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‘There will not be this year a more original novel published. I just know it.’—Tom Keneally, author of Schindler’s List.

In the coming weeks the joy of losing yourself in a story will be more important than ever. Let’s make sure people are getting a good one! Your customers can be among the first to read the astounding Australian debut that already has some of the world’s most prestigious publishing houses in an excited tizz.

While social distancing means Pip Williams will not be out visiting stores, we have you covered with lots of exciting activity for this book’s release.



A message from the author


Publicity and marketing

An extensive publicity campaign kicks off this weekend, right when everyone is tuning into the news with renewed vigour. You can expect to hear from Pip in the coming weeks through the below outlets. We’ll be supporting all of this with lots of advertising encouraging people to enjoy a great book while spending more time at home.


Key media appearances next week

Studio 10
ABC News Online
The Age’s Spectrum
The Adelaide Advertiser’s SA Weekend
The Courier Mail’s Q Weekend
The Big Issue
ABC Radio National
ABC Adelaide
ABC Melbourne
ABC Sydney
Radio Adelaide


Read an excerpt

Read an excerpt of The Dictionary of Lost Words.


Doing more online?

Download The Dictionary of Lost Words banner here.


The Story

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 seizes the word and hides it in an old wooden trunk that belongs to her friend Lizzie, a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. These words help her make sense of the world.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and 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. It’s a delightful, lyrical and deeply thought-provoking celebration of words, and the power of language to shape our experience of the world.

The Dictionary of Lost Words will be published in multiple international territories in 2021.


Request an advance reading copy

To request a reading copy please email Affirm Press Publicity and Marketing Manager, Grace Breen.




Contact us


Kelsey Oldham

Digital editor
Brad Jefferies

Acting editor, Daily
Matthia Dempsey

Editorial assistant
Anthea Yang

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