Sir Hugh Beaver and His Guinness Book of World Records

On this day, May 4 in the year 1890, the founder of the Guinness Book of World Records was born in South Africa. His complete name is Sir Hugh Eyre Campbell Beaver. He was the eldest of three sons of a landowner. A civil engineer by profession, he first joined the police force in India before he became a partner of an engineering firm which would take him to Canada to supervise some public works. During the war years, he was the managing director of the Ministry of Public Works of the British Government.

Sir Hugh Eyre Campbell Beaver and his book Guinness Book of World Records
Sir Hugh Eyre Campbell Beaver and his book Guinness Book of World Records

Beaver became the managing director Guinness Brewery after he attended a shooting party on November 10, 1951. There was an argument as to which game bird is the fastest. After doing some research, no answer was arrived at. Then the idea of publishing a book that would compile the fastest, tallest, and other “superlatives” hit him. He thought people in bars must be arguing the same things and that the book would be the ultimate reference.

He commissioned the twins Norris and Ross McWhirter to do the compilation and in 1954, the first issue of Guinness Book of Records came out of the press. It was only marketing giveaway but the reception was good. Beaver formed a company to continue the publication.

On August 27, 1955, the first 198-page edition was published and it became a best seller in Great Britain during the same year. The next year, it entered the US market and the same phenomenon happened. Since then, according to its website, it has become one of the most iconic brands in the world with almost 100 million copies being sold every year.


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