Best-selling Australian novel The Dictionary of Lost Words is coming to TV
South Australian producers Lisa Scott and Rebecca Summerton have acquired the rights to author Pip Williams’ sensational debut novel The dictionary of lost words.
Published by Affirm Press during lockdown in 2020, The dictionary of lost words was the first Australian work to be featured on Reese Witherspoon’s ‘Reese’s Book Club’ and subsequently sold over 300,000 copies in Australia alone. The book has been translated into 28 languages and was on the New York Times bestseller list.
Inspired by real facts, The dictionary of lost words is set in the early 20th century amid the women’s suffrage movement and the impending Great War. It follows Esme, a child who spends her days in the “Scriptorium”, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers collect words for Oxford’s first-ever English dictionary. Esme’s place is under the sorting table, invisible and unheard of. One day, a piece of paper containing the word “Bondmaid” floats on the floor. Esme begins collecting words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded, or have been overlooked by the Dictionary Men. Over time, Esme realizes that some words are considered more important than others and that words and meanings related to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She starts collecting words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
Producer Lisa Scott (pictured, right) of Highview Productions recently delivered Stan’s star Jamie Dornan The tourist, and co-producer Closer Productions’ Rebecca Summerton (pictured, left) has been behind films such as Animals and 52 Tuesdays. The couple previously collaborated on the award-winning drama series The hunt which was screened on SBS Australia.
Upon clearing the rights, Scott and Summerton said, “We have fallen in love with Pip’s novel, as have readers around the world and are thrilled to bring this beautiful, thought-provoking story to the screen. Inspired by real events, this heartfelt novel shines a light on the overlooked contribution of women’s words and their history in the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary.
The series will be a co-production between South Australian production houses Highview Productions and Closer Productions, with Anton Andreacchio as producer, and Alex Dimos, Andrew Nunn and Pip Williams as executive producers.