The Dictionary of Lost Words

STC-The-Dictionary-of-Lost-Words-by-Lisa-WhitePip 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 at the Drama Theatre – Sydney Opera House from 26 October 2023.

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 SouthThe 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.

Directed by Jessica Arthur (Grand Horizons, Wonnangatta), Verity Laughton’s adaptation stars Brett Archer, Rachel Burke, Tilda Cobham-Hervey (Amazon Prime’s The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart), Raj Labade, Ksenja Logos, Angela Mahlatjie (A Raisin in the Sun), Chris Pitman and Anthony Yangoyan.

This stellar cast 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.

The creative team includes Jonathon Oxlade (Set Designer), Alisa Paterson (Costume Designer), Trent Suidgeest (Lighting Designer), Max Lyandvert (Composer & Sound Designer) Shannon Rush (Assistant Director), Ruth Fallon (Intimacy & Fight Coordinator) and Jennifer Innes (Accent Coach).

The Dictionary of Lost Words has proven a resounding hit with theatregoers around the country, with a recent sold-out premiere run in Adelaide and extra performances just added to the upcoming Sydney season, the production will tour Arts Centre Melbourne in February 2024 for a strictly limited season.

The Dictionary of Lost Words is an incredible Australian success story; in just three years, Australian author Pip Williams’ debut novel became a New York Times best-seller, commissioned to be adapted for the stage by South Australian playwright Verity Laughton and directed by one of country’s best directors of new Australian work, Jessica Arthur and for STC and STCSA, with seasons in both cities selling out and extending the seasons before opening night,” said STC Artistic Director Kip Williams.

“We could not be more thrilled to be joining our co-producers State Theatre Company South Australia to bring this beautiful show to the book and theatre-loving audiences of Melbourne.”

The Dictionary of Lost Words
Drama Theatre – Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney
Season: 30 October – 16 December 2023 (previews: 26 – 27 October)
Information and Bookings:

Playhouse – Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Season: 17 February – 10 March 2024
Information and Bookings:

Image: The Dictionary of Lost Words – by Lisa White