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.
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 at a time when women's voices were clamouring more than ever to be heard, it moved me greatly to think how history is skewed by those who hold power -- and how important it is that novels like this redress that balance' Elizabeth Macneal, author or The Doll Factory
'A brilliant book about women and words - tender, moving and profound' Jacqueline Wilson
'I absolutely loved this book! Thought-provoking, touching and subtly romantic; I finished it in tears' Katie Fforde