On this Day:
In 1768, the 1st edition of “Encyclopedia Brittanica” was published in Scotland.
The Encyclopædia Britannica (Latin for “British Encyclopaedia”) is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia which is now published exclusively as an online encyclopaedia. It was formerly published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., and other publishers (for previous editions). It was written by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 contributors. The 2010 version of the 15th edition, which spans 32 volumes and 32,640 pages, was the last printed edition.
Printed for 244 years, the Britannica was the longest running in-print encyclopaedia in the English language. It was first published between 1768 and 1771 in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, as three volumes. (This first edition is available in facsimile.) The encyclopaedia grew in size: the second edition was 10 volumes, and by its fourth edition (1801–1810) it had expanded to 20 volumes. Its rising stature as a scholarly work helped recruit eminent contributors, and the 9th (1875–1889) and 11th editions (1911) are landmark encyclopaedias for scholarship and literary style. Starting with the 11th edition and following its acquisition by an American firm, the Britannica shortened and simplified articles to broaden its appeal to the North American market. In 1933, the Britannica became the first encyclopaedia to adopt “continuous revision”, in which the encyclopaedia is continually reprinted, with every article updated on a schedule. In March 2012, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. announced it would no longer publish printed editions, and would focus instead on the online version.
The 15th edition has a three-part structure: a 12-volume Micropædia of short articles (generally fewer than 750 words), a 17-volume Macropædia of long articles (two to 310 pages), and a single Propædia volume to give a hierarchical outline of knowledge. The Micropædia was meant for quick fact-checking and as a guide to the Macropædia; readers are advised to study the Propædia outline to understand a subject’s context and to find more detailed articles. Over 70 years, the size of the Britannica has remained steady, with about 40 million words on half a million topics. Though published in the United States since 1901, the Britannica has for the most part maintained British English spelling.
Since the 3rd edition, the Britannica has enjoyed a popular and critical reputation for general excellence. The 3rd and the 9th editions were pirated for sale in the United States, beginning with Dobson’s Encyclopaedia. On the release of the 14th edition, Time magazine dubbed the Britannica the “Patriarch of the Library”. In a related advertisement, naturalist William Beebe was quoted as saying that the Britannica was “beyond comparison because there is no competitor.” References to the Britannica can be found throughout English literature, most notably in one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s favourite Sherlock Holmes stories, “The Red-Headed League”. The tale was highlighted by the Lord Mayor of London, Gilbert Inglefield, at the bicentennial of the Britannica.
The Britannica has a reputation for summarising knowledge. To further their education, some people have devoted themselves to reading the entire Britannica, taking anywhere from three to 22 years to do so. When Fat’h Ali became the Shah of Persia in 1797, he was given a set of the Britannica’s 3rd edition, which he read completely; after this feat, he extended his royal title to include “Most Formidable Lord and Master of the Encyclopædia Britannica”. Writer George Bernard Shaw claimed to have read the complete 9th edition—except for the science articles—and Richard Evelyn Byrd took the Britannica as reading material for his five-month stay at the South Pole in 1934, while Philip Beaver read it during a sailing expedition. More recently, A.J. Jacobs, an editor at Esquire magazine, read the entire 2002 version of the 15th edition, describing his experiences in the well-received 2004 book, The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World. Only two people are known to have read two independent editions: the author C. S. Forester and Amos Urban Shirk, an American businessman who read the 11th and 14th editions, devoting roughly three hours per night for four and a half years to read the 11th. Elon Musk read the Britannica twice. Several editors-in-chief of the Britannica are likely to have read their editions completely, such as William Smellie (1st edition), William Robertson Smith (9th edition), and Walter Yust (14th edition) (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
What Do You Call a Boy with a volume of the Encyclopedia Brittanica in His Pocket?
Second, a Song:
Friends is an American television sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994, to May 6, 2004, lasting ten seasons. With an ensemble cast starring Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer, the show revolves around six friends in their 20s and 30s who live in Manhattan, New York City. The series was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The original executive producers were Kevin S. Bright, Kauffman, and Crane.
Kauffman and Crane began developing Friends under the working title Insomnia Cafe between November and December 1993. They presented the idea to Bright, and together they pitched a seven-page treatment of the show to NBC. After several script rewrites and changes, including title changes to Six of One and Friends Like Us, the series was finally named Friends.
Filming took place at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California. All ten seasons of Friends ranked within the top ten of the final television season ratings; it ultimately reached the number-one spot in its eighth season. The series finale aired on May 6, 2004, and was watched by around 52.5 million American viewers, making it the fifth-most-watched series finale in television history and the most-watched television episode of the 2000s.
Friends received acclaim throughout its run, becoming one of the most popular television shows of all time. The series was nominated for 62 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning the Outstanding Comedy Series award in 2002 for its eighth season. The show ranked no. 21 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and no. 7 on Empire magazine’s The 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 1997, the episode “The One with the Prom Video” was ranked no. 100 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All-Time. In 2013, Friends ranked no. 24 on the Writers Guild of America’s 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time, and no. 28 on TV Guide’s 60 Best TV Series of All Time. The sitcom’s cast members returned for a reunion special aired on HBO Max on May 27, 2021 (per Wikipedia).
Here is an episode clip from Friends where a salesman tries to convince Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc) to purchase an encyclopedia.
Thought for the Day:
“Certitude belongs exclusively to those who only own one encyclopedia.” – Robert Anton Wilson
Happy Birthday to IDMooseMan [GGN] [DGN]! Hope this brings a Smile to your day! Thanks for following!
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky
When I was a pre-teen, my grandfather lived with us. Prominent on his bookshelf were a full set of encyclopedia britatanica and the works of Charles Dickens. Encyclopedia Britaniica issued an update volume each year for the first ten years after purchasing the original set.
Eric O’Dell, South Surrey