The often weird and wonderful Guinness World Records is a reference book synonymous with world records both of human achievement and extremes in the natural world and from its name, one would assume its origins lie in Ireland, but the truth is much more complex.
The idea for The Guinness Book of Records came back in the early 1950s when a South African man, Sir Hugh Beaver, who was then the Managing Director of Guinness's Brewery, in Dublin, was attending a shooting party in the North Slob, by the River Slaney in County Wexford.
During his stay, he and his hosts got into an argument over which was the fastest game bird in Europe. They failed to find a resolution, even by using reference books.
My Goodness, My Guinness
Then in 1954, remembering his Wexford shooting party and the argument they'd had Sir Beaver came up with the idea of a Guinness promotion based on the idea of settling arguments that usually arose while in the pub.
Beaver invited twins Norris and Ross McWhirter to compile a book of facts and figures. On Nov 30, 1954, Guinness Superlatives was incorporated and their office opened in two rooms in a converted gymnasium on the top floor of Ludgate House, 107 Fleet Street, in London.
According to The Guinness Book of Records official site "After an initial research phase, work begins on writing the book, which takes 13 and a half 90-hour weeks, including weekends and bank holidays. Little do the McWhirters know that taking shape is a book that will go on to become an all-time best seller and one of the most recognized and trusted brands in the world."
World record best-selling book
The first publication was bound on Aug 27, 1955. It went on to reach the top of the Christmas best-sellers list by that Christmas. The following year it sold 70,000 copies in the United States.
Today, The Guinness Book of World Records is a record-breaker itself. It has sold over 100 million copies, in 100 different countries and has been translated into 37 languages. In fact, The Guinness Book of World Records is the best-selling copyrighted book ever.
So is the Guinness Book of World Records Irish?
Well, it came from the mind of a South African who was the manager of Ireland's great Guinness Brewery, who was also on vacation in County Wexford. However, the company was established and functioned out of London. Either way, we've decided... we'll claim it!