Penny Cyclopaedia

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The Penny Cyclopædia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was a multi-volume encyclopedia edited by George Long and published by Charles Knight alongside the Penny Magazine. Twenty-seven volumes and three supplements were published from 1833 to 1843.

The unnamed contributors to the Penny Cyclopædia included many notable figures of the period, including Henry Ellis, John Kitto, Charles Knight, George Henry Lewes, Augustus De Morgan, James Paget, George Richardson Porter, Thomas Southwood Smith, and Ralph Nicholson Wornum.[1] Herman Melville is known to have used the Penny Cyclopædia while writing Moby-Dick and other novels, and scholar Paul McCarthy has suggested that the encyclopedia's coverage of moral insanity and monomania may have influenced Melville's characters in Moby-Dick and other writings.[2]


  1. ^ Baker, William (September 1974). "George Henry Lewes and the 'Penny Cyclopaedia': Twenty-Seven Unattributed Articles". Victorian Periodicals Newsletter 7 (3): 15–18. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 
  2. ^ McCarthy, Paul (1987). "Forms of Insanity and Insane Characters in Moby-Dick". Colby Quarterly 23 (1): 1–14. Retrieved 6 December 2013. 

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