Chambers Book of Days
The Chambers Book of Days (The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in Connection with the Calendar, Including Anecdote, Biography, & History, Curiosities of Literature and Oddities of Human Life and Character) was written by the Scottish author Robert Chambers and first published in 1864.
Chambers Book of Days (1864)
The Book of Days was Robert Chambers' last publication, and perhaps his most elaborate. It was a huge collection of short largely factual pieces which today would generally be bracketed as "trivia" but very interesting trivia. The formula has been much repeated. It is supposed that his excessive labour in connection with this book hastened his death. It was published in two large volumes, each over 840 pages long, and, for its day, was well-illustrated with engraved drawings linked to the articles. Its full title is "The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities in connection with the Calendar: including Anecdote, Biography, & History, Curiosities and Literature, and Oddities of Human Life and Character." It is well-indexed adding much to its value as a reference tool.
Each day, listed in chronological order gives a short list of saints connected to the day and famous persons being born on that day and dying on that day. Individuals are then selected from these lists for more detailed articles. With six or seven articles per day the total number of articles, which are in the form of erudite essays, runs to around 2000, a staggering undertaking in terms of research. It is a much quoted reference in many hundreds of other reference books.
Two years before, the University of St Andrews had conferred upon him the degree of doctor of laws, and he was elected a member of the Athenaeum Club in London. It is his highest claim to distinction that he did so much to give a healthy tone to the cheap popular literature which has become so important a factor in modern civilization.
Chambers Book of Days (2004)
Chambers Harrap published a new Book of Days in 2004, Rosalind Fergusson wrote for the Chambers Harrap website that:
- Like its illustrious predecessor, Chambers Book of Days (2004) is a compendium of information relating to the days, months, and seasons of the year, selected and presented with the personal touch of the author. ... At the same time, the style of Chambers Book of Days (1864) has been preserved by the inclusion of numerous passage from the original volumes, and the selection of these was one of the current author’s more pleasurable tasks. It is hard to surpass Robert Chambers’ lyrical descriptions of the characteristics of the changing seasons, for example, extracts of which are included at the beginning of each month.
- Chambers Book of Days (1864) Chambers Harrap web site
- Ian Sansom Crunchy, but not the original in The Guardian December 4, 2004
- article "CHAMBERS" in the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition
- Rosalind Fergusson Chambers Harrap Publishers: Chambers Book of Days (2004) September 2004
- Online edition (google books)
- The Hyperlinked and Searchable HTML version of Robert Chambers's 1864 Book of Days
- An electronic reprint of the original: Chambers's Book of Days from the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center.