Category Archives: WRITING

The Bookbinder of Jericho

The follow-up and companion to one of the most successful Australian novels ever, The Dictionary of Lost Words

What is lost when knowledge is withheld?

In 1914, when the war draws the young men of Britain away to fight, it is the women who must keep the nation running. Two of those women are Peggy and Maude, twin sisters who work in the bindery at Oxford University Press in Jericho. Peggy is intelligent, ambitious and dreams of studying at Oxford University, but for most of her life she has been told her job is to bind the books, not read them. Maude, meanwhile, wants nothing more than what she has. She is extraordinary but vulnerable. Peggy needs to watch over her.

When refugees arrive from the devastated cities of Belgium, it sends ripples through the community and through the sisters’ lives. Peggy begins to see the possibility of another future where she can use her intellect and not just her hands, but as war and illness reshape her world, it is love, and the responsibility that comes with it, that threaten to hold her back.

In this beautiful companion to the international bestseller The Dictionary of Lost Words, Pip Williams explores another little-known slice of history seen through women’s eyes. Evocative, subversive and rich with unforgettable characters, The Bookbinder of Jericho is a story about knowledge – who gets to make it, who gets to access it, and what is lost when it is withheld.

What others are saying about The Bookbinder of Jericho:

‘Heart wrenching and bittersweet, The Bookbinder of Jericho is a lovingly woven story of hardship, longing and hope. Pip Williams writes with great insight and fascinating detail of working-class women, the war effort and World War I refugees. It was such a pleasure to spend time with these completely charming women.’ Mirandi Riwoe

‘I’ve longed to return to Williams’ distinctive blend of riveting historical detail and brilliant women. The Bookbinder of Jericho is everything I wanted and more.’ Toni Jordan

The Bookbinder of Jericho is an extraordinary work of poetic grace and raw beauty that will enfold readers in its powerful and moving narrative. A stunning companion to The Dictionary of Lost Words, this book is a classic and another triumph for Pip Williams.’ Karen Brooks

‘After finishing Pip’s beautiful book I had to wander along my shelves, taking my old books out and turning them over to see how they had been stitched together. The Bookbinder of Jericho will teach you things you’ll never forget – not just about how books were made, but who the women were who made them. Rich, deep and fascinating, it’s what all novels should be – a companion for life.’ Tegan Bennett-Daylight

‘Pip Williams has an unnerving and magnificent skill at creating characters who step off the page and directly into your heart and memory. In The Bookbinder of Jericho she asks her readers to pay attention to what has been overlooked – individual women and their labour, trauma and courage – and she does it with such style and grace. Reading Pip’s new novel felt like coming home.’ Kate Mildenhall

View my publisher’s book page:

The Bookbinder of Jericho


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. They 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  is an international bestseller, selling more than 250k copies in Australia alone, with rights sold to over 30 territories worldwide. Also a New York Times bestseller, The Dictionary of Lost Words was the first Australian novel selected for Reese Witherspoon’s book club. A stage adaptation of the novel will grace the Sydney Opera House in October 2023, and screen rights have been acquired by a South Australian production house with plans underway for a limited television series.

What others are saying about The Dictionary of Lost Words

‘What a novel of words, their adventure and their capacity to define and, above all, challenge the world. There will not be this year a more original novel published. I just know it.’ Tom Keneally, author of Schindler’s List

‘Full of heart and tenderness, heartbreak and joy, love and loss … this is the perfect iso read.’ The Herald Sun

‘The debut novelist who’s become a lockdown sensation.’ The Guardian Australia

‘The biggest treat of The Dictionary of Lost Words is the complexity of a central character who is not easy to classify – a listener with an innate understanding of the life-changing importance of valuing people’s words.’ The Saturday Paper

‘This is a wonderful debut novel … I even cried while reading it on the train.’ Sarah L’Estrange, ABC Radio National’s The Book Show

‘My advice to readers is: experience The Dictionary of Lost Words for yourselves rather than getting swept away by the hype. Don’t gobble it, as I did the first time round – savour its heart-wrenching detail.’ The Conversation

‘A thought-provoking celebration of words.’ Better Homes and Gardens

‘There’s a lot of buzz around this book with good reason.’ The Herald Sun

‘A lovely book.’ The Adelaide Advertiser

‘A thoroughly original concept married to beautifully rendered characters, immersive setting and intensely satisfying storytelling – The Dictionary of Lost Words fulfils all the promises of the best historical fiction.’ Melissa Ashley, author of The Birdman’s Wife and The Bee and the Orange Tree

‘Esme and her world really resonated with me. She is a terrific character: intelligent, empathetic and resilient. I was exhilarated reading this novel.’ Readings Monthly

‘Endlessly fascinating and more and more enchanting the further you go, this is a book you can completely lose yourself in.’ Ben Hunter, Fiction Buyer at Booktopia

Visit my publisher’s book page:

The Dictionary Of Lost Words



Published by Affirm Press in April 2017

Pip and Shannon dreamed of living the good life. 

They wanted to slow down, grow their own food and spend more time with the people they love. But jobs and responsibilities got in the way: their chooks died, their fruit rotted, and Pip ended up depressed and in therapy. So they did the only reasonable thing – they quit their jobs, pulled the children out of school and went searching for la dolce vita in Italy. Continue reading ONE ITALIAN SUMMER


Time poverty is a problem for many Australian households and work is the main culprit.

Australians start work young, and we are working more, and longer into old age. While maximising our productivity and enhancing our professional skills, we must also raise our children well, care for our aged, be involved in our community and shrink our carbon footprint – a footprint shaped by the patterns and habits of our work, social obligations and households.

What is it costing Australians to try and do it all? And what is it costing our families and communities?

Incisive and thought-provoking, Time Bomb throws light on poor urban planning, workplace laws and practices, care obligations and other issues that rob us of time and put our households under pressure. And it looks at how work affects our response to the greatest concern of our time – our environmental challenges.

Link to publisher’s web site