[PW] ?Pip

John Henderson jrhenderson9 at gmail.com
Tue Sep 7 05:02:58 PDT 2021

Two novels were published in the US within a month of each other. The Liar’s Dictionary was published on May 3, 2021. The Dictionary of Lost Words was published on April 6, 2021.

The works are the debut novels of both authors, Eley Williams and Pip Williams. It is not too likely that they are related, since Eley is English and Pip, although born in London, grew up and still lives in Australia. Both novels are about lexicographers. Eley’s is about a fictional rival dictionary to the OED, while Pip’s is about the making of the OED itself. Both are celebrations of words. 

All that is preface to this question about a Pip of a coincidence. One of the Liar’s Dictionary’s characters is named Pip. Pip is not common, and less common as a female name. Since the books were published at about the same time, the novelists must have been writing at about the same time. Did they write in ignorance of each other? Did they bump into each other while researching the OED? Was Eley paying homage to Pip by naming an important character after her? Or is Pip a character in one and the author of the other simply a cool coincidence? 

I have found no answers or clues in any of the reviews of the books or bios of the authors I’ve read. 

John Henderson
Retired librarian, Ithaca College

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