Encyclopedia Britannica rules the waves

Back in the day, when google was something you wrote when you’d spelled goggle incorrectly, if you’d needed access to any information, you relied on an encyclopedia.

As a young teenager I travelled from Balham to Purley (might as well have been Pluto, it seemed so far away) to collect a set of ten 1928 Chamber’s encyclopedias from my dad’s boss. I still have them – there is so much dust on them, it looks like Miss Haversham could be my cleaner.

There are, however, many wonderful colour plates inside and, being nearly 100-years old, some interesting entries: Benito Mussolini: up and coming Italian politician; Dodo: flightless bird, in danger if humans ever visit Mauritius. It is also a great place to discover what countries used to be called, showing why you can never find a holiday brochure for German South-West Africa at your travel agent’s.

But there probably many encyclopedias in peoples’ houses: perhaps acting as doorstops or being used to create a set of steps if you’ve mislaid the ladder which gets you into the loft?

And what happened to door-to-door sellers of the Encyclopedia Britannica?  Are they now trying to path over peoples’ drives with old books?  I used to feel sorry for the salesman and bought the first once, thus making me capable of only knowing about things if they began with an A or a B.  Perhaps they gravitated towards double-glazing salesmen?  All 32 editions of the Britannica would certainly cut out a draught.

Next time any of my children/grandchildren ask me anything, I’m getting all ten volumes down, placing them on the floor and telling them the internet’s down.

2 thoughts on “Encyclopedia Britannica rules the waves

  1. Mike, your children and grandchildren would know exactly how to get the Internet up and running again. My eldest grandson loved books for a long time, not sure about encyclopaedias though, Google would be so much faster!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So very true, Linda, have have two four-year-old granddaughters and I’m going stick one under one of their noses whenever lockdown reopens. That’ll make them wish it was still going 🙂


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