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1911 Encyclopędia Britannica
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1911 Encyclopędia Britannica

The Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopędia Britannica (1911) represents in many ways the sum of knowledge at the beginning of the 20th century. The edition is still often regarded as the greatest edition of the Encyclopędia Britannica, with many articles being up to 10 times the length of other encyclopędias.

Some articles were written by the best-known scholars of the age, such as Edmund Gosse, J. B. Bury, Algernon Charles Swinburne, John Muir, Prince Peter Kropotkin, T.H. Huxley, William Michael Rossetti and Henry Ford, as well as many other names now less known. Many others were carried over from the Ninth Edition, some with minimal updating, some of the book-length articles divided into smaller parts for easier reference, yet others heavily abridged. Many articles are still of value and interest to modern readers and scholars. The best known authors generally contributed only a single article or part of an article, however. The majority of the work was done by a mix of journalists, British Museum staff, and academics. Among these lesser known contributors were some who would later achieve greatness such as Ernest Rutherford and Bertrand Russell.

The Eleventh Edition was a notable reorganization and rewriting of the Encyclopędia Britannica, which was first published in three volumes in 1768. The Eleventh Edition formed the basis for every edition of the Encyclopędia Britannica up until 1974, when the completely new Fifteenth Edition, based on modern information presentation, was published.

Sir Kenneth Clark, in Another Part of the Wood, wrote of the Eleventh Edition:

One leaps from one subject to another, fascinated as much by the play of mind and the idiosyncrasies of their authors as by the facts and dates. It must be the last encyclopędia in the tradition of Diderot which assumes that information can be made memorable only when it is slightly coloured by prejudice. When T.S. Eliot wrote "Soul curled up on the window seat reading the Encyclopędia Britannica" he was certainly thinking of the eleventh edition.

The 1911 edition for the first time saw a number of female contributors. Thirty-four women contributed articles to the edition.

The 1911 edition is no longer restricted by copyright, and it is available in several more modern forms. Much content from the 1911 edition has been incorporated into Wikipedia; a quick count in July 2004 claimed around 1950 articles. A large number of these are about historical figures or events, and are unlikely to require much revision to remain excellent summaries for the foreseeable future.

The Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia is actually the 1911 EB, renamed to address Britannica's trademark concerns. However, as of July 2004, Project Gutenberg only holds an electronic version of Volume 1. Distributed Proofreaders is currently working on producing a complete electronic edition of the 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica, which will be available from Project Gutenberg when finished. As of July 2004, proofed text of articles in volumes 2 – 5 is accessible via DP's Post Processing page:
Volume 2.2:   ARGENTINA   —   AUSTRIA
Volume 3.1:   AUSTRIA, LOWER   —   BASSOON
Volume 3.2:   BASSOON   —   BISECTRIX
Volume 4.2:   BORDEAUX   —   BRÉQUIGNY
Volume 4.3:   BRÉQUIGNY   —   BULGARIA
Volume 4.4:   BULGARIA   —   CALGARY
(Some assembly required!)

As of July 2004, proofed text of articles in volume 5.2 (CAPE COLONY — CAT) is accessible via [1]


External links

Versions can be found at: