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Pip Williams Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Dictionary of Lost Words (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

One Italian Summer (2017)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Pip Williams
Pip Williams was born in London and grew up in Sydney and calls the Adelaide Hills home.

She has written a nonfiction book about her family’s travels searching for the good life to wide acclaim, and co-written another nonfiction book. Pip has also published book reviews, flash fiction, travel articles, and poetry.

Her inspiration for “The Dictionary of Lost Words” came after reading and enjoying “The Professor and the Madman” by Simon Winchester, which was a book about the relationship between James Murray, the Oxford English Dictionary’s editor, and one of the volunteers that supplied examples of how words had been used in literature. Pip became fascinated by the process of compiling the Dictionary, however when she had finished the novel, there were some niggling questions that she couldn’t find the answers to.

Like if everybody involved in defining these words were men, how well did this first edition of the OED represent the way that women used words? If all of the words in the OED had to have some textual source, which they did, then what words may have gotten lost because they never got written down, words spoken by the poor, the illiterate, or the women doing women’s work.

Pip read on a bit more and searched for things online, however she could never find the answers to these questions. What she did find, however, was this one curious story about a lost word.

The word ‘bondmaid’, was found missing from the first volume of words in the year 1901. the word should’ve went between “bondly” and “bondman”, however it wasn’t. It means slave girl, and nobody knows how it disappeared. It is a mystery ripe for solving, and that is right when the seed of an idea for a story started to grow.

In a lot of ways, her character of Esme is inspired by the many women that contributed to that first edition of the OED. They included volunteers and paid assistants that sent in examples of how words were used in text, and women that engaged with the words that finally got published. Ditte is the only character in the novel that is based on a real person. Ditte, Esme’s godmother, is a fictionalized version of a woman named Edith Thompson.

Pip had a dilemma she had was whether or not to name Edith Thompson, as she was involved in the OED as a volunteer contributor and proofreader from letter A to letter Z and yet there is so little that is written about her in the official history. What Pip did know was relevant and interesting to the story that she was telling.

While writing, she became Esme’s godmother, obviously not something that was a possibility in real life, and everything Pip wrote about their relationship is a complete fiction, however she still believes it rings true to the Edith that she came to know during the research process.

Right up until the book went to the printers, she was debating whether to give her a pseudonym, just to be on the safe side and avoid any criticism. By the end, she wanted people to know about Edith and her role in developing the Dictionary. Pip allowed Edith to keep her real name because she didn’t want Edith to get overlooked, and could not bear to remove her from this story.

While Pip had a big picture plan of where the novel would go and a few of the key moments would end up being, anything could happen in each individual scene. This was because of the research and the characters. Sometimes as she’d be writing, a character would do or say something that she had not anticipated or planned on, yet which seemed very natural. Other times, she’d do some research to understand the context that her characters were in and learn something that she could not ignore.

Like the suffrage storyline wound up being much stronger than it could have been. She didn’t realize at first, just how close the timelines of the OED and the women’s suffrage movement in the UK were. They are tales that history keeps separated, however for Pip, they are wrapped around one another in a way that still resonates to this very day.

Pip’s debut novel, called “The Dictionary of Lost Words”, was released in the year 2021. Her work is from the historical fiction genre.

“The Dictionary of Lost Words” is the first stand alone novel and was released in the year 2021. In the year 1901, it was discovered that the word ‘Bondmaid’ was missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story about the girl that stole it.

Esme is born into a world filled with words. Irrepressibly curious and motherless, she spends her childhood in the ‘Scriptorium’, a garden shed in Oxford where her dad and a team of dedicated lexicographers collect words for the first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is located under the sorting table, unheard and unseen.

A slip of paper with the word ‘bondmaid’ comes fluttering to the floor one day. She rescues the slip and stashes it inside an old wooden case which belongs to Lizzie, her friend and a young servant in the big house. Esme starts collecting other words from the Scriptorium which are discarded, misplaced, or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her out to make better sense of the world.

Esme, over time, realizes that some words are believed to be more important than other ones, and that meanings and words relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. As she dedicates her life to the Oxford English Dictionary, she secretly starts collecting up words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Set during the period when women’s suffrage movement was at its peak and the Great War was looming, this novel reveals a lost narrative, which is hidden between the lines of a history that was written by men. The novel is a lyrical, delightful, and deeply thought provoking celebration of words, and the power that language has in shaping the world as well as our own experience of it.

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