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Event Series Event Series: The Dictionary of Lost Words

Sydney Theatre Company: The Dictionary of Lost Words

21 November @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm AEDT

The Dictionary of Lost Words

South Australian author Pip Williams’ much loved, best-selling novel has been adapted for the stage by Verity Laughton. It begins in 1886. As the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is being compiled by her father and his male colleagues, Esme starts to collect her own set of words neglected by the men. Meanwhile, the women’s rights movement is gaining traction. Tilda Cobham-Hervey plays Esme and Jessica Arthur directs. (Read our feature on page 38.)

Limelight Editor’s Choice

Pip Williams’ award-winning New York Times bestseller and book club favourite, The Dictionary of Lost Words, will be brought to vivid life in a new adaptation for the stage by Verity Laughton and directed by one of Australia’s best directors, Jessica Arthur (Grand Horizons, Wonnangatta).

It’s 1886 and the very first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is being compiled. Four-year-old Esme Nicoll has a front row seat. Well, she’s hiding under the sorting table, anyway. As her father and his male colleagues decide which words stay and which go, Esme collects the discarded (often gendered) scraps to compile her own far more radical, far more magical dictionary.

A sweeping historical tale in the spirit of The Harp in the South, The Dictionary of Lost Words follows Esme from her childhood in the 1880s, into adulthood at the height of the women’s suffrage movement and the beginning of the First World War.

This novel captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of readers around the globe, and was recommended by book club trendsetters like Reese Witherspoon. In 2023, Verity Laughton’s adaptation will unfurl this beautiful and transportive reflection on the love between a daughter and her father, at a time when the women’s rights movement was first gaining traction, into a delectable and warm night of theatre.


21 November
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Category:
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Sydney Opera House
Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia + Google Map
02 9250 7111
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Sydney Theatre Company
02 9250 1777
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