1st Instalment of Encyclopaedia Britannica

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History on 6th December


Lloyd George becomes prime minister

Tories Pick Cameron as Leader,

Anglo-Irish treaty is signed

1st Instalment of Encyclopaedia Britannica

Edinburgh, Edinburgh and the Lothians The 6th of December 1768 AD

The brainchild of engraver Andrew Bell and printer and bookseller Colin MacFarquhar, both from Edinburgh, the Encyclopaedia Britannica was by no means the first in its field, encyclopaedias having a history dating back to the Greek scholars and carried on through medieval Europe. Two recent forerunners influenced Britannica more than the rest, however: Diderot’s revolutionary Encyclopédie, whose radical views the Britannica was intended to counteract; and the 1728 Cyclopaedia produced by Ephraim Chambers, whose compartmentalised layout showed the way for the Britannica to develop.
The business partners took on William Smellie to edit and largely write the work, though in a very real version of cut-and-paste he stole many pieces wholesale from other works. But he got it done; and the publication proved a winner – if not always a financial success – thanks to the scheme of long and literate essays combining knowledge in related fields, these essays listed alphabetically, ‘the new plan’ as the business called it.
Rather than waiting for the entire work to be completed, the partners released it in small pamphlet-sized ‘numbers’, in modern parlance a part-work, the first of which went on sale in the Scottish capital for 6d (tuppence more for a slightly posher version) on December 6 1768, the product of and seminal in the Scottish Enlightenment.

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Brit Quote:
An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. - Rudyard Kipling
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On this day:
British surrender at Yorktown - 1781, North Sea Oil Discovered - 1970, Black Monday Market Crash - 1987, Guildford Four Verdicts Quashed - 1989
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