Charles Elliott

The Eleventh’s Hour

Everything Explained that Is Explainable: On the Creation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Celebrated Eleventh Edition, 1910–1911

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The Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica is unquestionably an impressive thing. Even the India paper printing – the one I am happy to possess – demands an impressive five feet of bookshelf space to accommodate its forty-four million words in twenty-nine volumes. And sheer size is not its only attribute. First published over a hundred years ago, the great Eleventh continues to have a life not only on paper but also on the internet, where it may be consulted for free. While it doesn’t explain everything, it goes a very long way towards explaining a large proportion of what was of interest to an educated Briton in 1910 – and for a good while afterwards.

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