23rd May 2024

Gadsby: Fifty thousand words without an ‘e’



There are very, very few words in the English language where vowels aren’t used. And ‘e’ is the most commonly used letter in the English language. There are 22 ‘e’s in the previous two sentences alone! Then, imagine how much difficult it must have been to write Gadsby, a 50,000-word novel without the letter ‘e’! Except for the introduction and the note at the end, you won’t find the letter ‘e’ used anywhere.

Gadsby is a 1939 novel written by American writer Ernest Vincent Wright. It is said that he spent around six months writing the novel on a typewriter, with the ‘e’ key tied down. Wright completed the script in 1936, and it took him three years to publish the book.

Gadsby is a perfect example of a lipogram. Lipograms are paragraphs or longer texts in which the writer deliberately avoids using a particular letter or letters.

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