Motherless Esme hides under a desk in the Scriptorium where her father works surrounded by words. He is one of the lexicographers working on words to include in the first Oxford English Dictionary. When careless lexicographers drop chits, Esme collects the words and their meanings written on pieces of paper and hides them in a trunk. As the years pass, she comes to realize that many words are excluded because the lexicographers believe words for the dictionary should have written examples. So begins Esme’s personal research, collecting excluded words—words of profanity, words commonly used only by women but not men—words she hears in the markets. But what will she do with her collection and how will her life change once she begins working in the Scriptorium? A fascinating tale inspired by the lexicographers who actually worked on producing the first English dictionary back in the late 1800s.