Guinness World Records

About GWR (Credit Guinness World Records official website)


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In 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, went on a shooting party and became involved in an argument. Which was the fastest game bird in Europe – the golden plover or the grouse? He realized then that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove popular. He was right!

Sir Hugh’s idea became reality when Norris and Ross McWhirter, who had been running a fact-finding agency in London, were commissioned to compile what became The Guinness Book of Records. The first edition was bound on August 27, 1955, and went to the top of the British bestseller lists by Christmas that year.

Since then, Guinness World Records™ has become a household name and the global leader in world records. No other enterprise collects, confirms, accredits and presents world record data with the same investment in comprehensiveness and authenticity.

As the Keeper of the Records, I maintain a vigilant watch to guarantee the accuracy and relevance of each and every Guinness World Record™, and my team of researchers operates with unswerving impartiality and commitment to veracity. A fact may only become a Guinness World Record™ when it’s tested, verified and elevated above all suspicion.

The book has gone on to become a record breaker in its own right. With sales of more than 100 million copies in 100 different countries and 37 languages, Guinness World Records™ is the world’s best ever selling copyright book!

Stewart Newport
Keeper of the Records


Guinness World Records, known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records (and in previous U.S. editions The Guinness Book of World Records), is a reference book published annually, containing an internationally recognized collection of world records, both human achievements and the extreme of the natural world. The book itself holds a world record, as the best-selling copyrighted series.


On 10 November 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver, then the managing director of the Guinness Brewery, went on a shooting party in North Slob, by the River Slaney in County Wexford, Ireland. He became involved in an argument: which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the golden plover or the grouse? That evening at Castlebridge House, he realized that it was impossible to confirm in reference books whether or not the golden plover was Europe's fastest game bird.

Beaver thought that there must be numerous other questions debated nightly in the 81,400 pubs in Britain and Ireland, but there was no book with which to settle arguments about records. He realized then that a book supplying the answers to this sort of question might prove popular.

Beaver’s idea became reality when Guinness employee Christopher Chataway recommended student twins Norris and Ross McWhirter, who had been running a fact-finding agency in London. The brothers were commissioned to compile what became The Guinness Book of Records in August 1954. One thousand copies were printed and given away.

After founding the Guinness Book of Records at 107 Fleet Street, the first 198-page edition was bound on 27 August 1955 and went to the top of the British best seller lists by Christmas. "It was a marketing give away—it wasn't supposed to be a money maker," said Beaver. The following year it launched in the U.S., and it sold 70,000 copies.

After the book became a surprise hit, many further editions were printed, eventually settling into a pattern of one revision a year, published in October to coincide with Christmas sales. The McWhirters continued to publish it and related books for many years. Both brothers had an encyclopedic memory — on the TV series Record Breakers, based upon the book, they would take questions posed by children in the audience on various world records, and would usually be able to give the correct answer. Ross McWhirter was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 1975. Following McWhirter's assassination, the feature was called "Norris on the Spot".


Recent editions have focused on record feats by human competitors. Competitions range from obvious ones such as weightlifting to the more entertaining such as longest egg-throwing distance or the number of hot dogs that can be consumed in ten minutes - although eating contest and beer and alcohol consumption entries are no longer accepted, possibly for fear of litigation. Besides records about competitions, it contains such facts as the heaviest tumor, the most poisonous plant, the shortest river (Roe River), the longest-running drama (Guiding Light), the longest serving members of a drama series (William Roache for Coronation Street in the UK, Kate Ritchie and Ray Meagher for Home and Away in Australia), the world's most successful salesman (Joe Girard), the most successful reality television musical group (Girls Aloud), and the only brother and sister to have solo number one singles in UK chart history (Daniel and Natasha Bedingfield). Many records also relate to the youngest person who achieved something, such as the youngest person to visit all nations of the world, being Maurizio Giuliano.

Each edition contains a selection of the large set of records in the Guinness database, and the criteria for that choice have changed over the years.

The ousting of Norris McWhirter from his consulting role in 1995 and the subsequent decision by Diageo plc to sell the Guinness World Records brand have shifted it from a text-heavy reference book to a highly-illustrated, colourful product.

These changes have done no harm to its commercial success: the Guinness Book of Records is the world's most sold copyrighted book, thus earning it an entry within its own pages. A number of spin-off books and television series have also been produced. Again the emphasis in these shows has been on spectacular, entertaining stunts, rather than any aspiration to inform or educate. The Guinness World Record brand is now owned by HIT Entertainment.
Madonna is the most successful female recording artist in the music history and she is the highest earning female singer of all time, according to the 2007 Guinness Book of Records.
Madonna is the most successful female recording artist in the music history and she is the highest earning female singer of all time, according to the 2007 Guinness Book of Records.

Guinness World Records do not monitor the category of 'Person with the most records' as this changes too frequently, and records that once existed may now have been 'rested' and therefore this would not be a fair category.

In 2005, Guinness designated 9 November as International Guinness World Records Day to encourage breaking of world records; it was described as "phenomenally successful". The 2006 version was dubbed as, "the world’s biggest international event" with an estimated 100,000 people participating in over 10 countries. The promotion has earned Guinness a whopping 2,244 all-new valid records in 12 months, which is a 173% increase over the previous year.

In 2006, Michael Jackson visited the Guinness World Records office in London to collect 7 Official Records Certificates related to his successful career as a vocalist and song writer.

On 9 January 2007, Guinness announced it was working with AskMeNow to offer mobile access to the Guinness World Records databases. The company has been collaborating with the UK-based firm Texperts for several years already, and it offers both companies exclusive access to their database.

Ethical issues

Several world records that were once included in the book have been removed for ethical reasons. By publishing world records in a category, the book may encourage others to try to beat that record, even at the expense of their own health and safety. For example, following publication of a "heaviest cat" record, many cat owners overfed their pets beyond the bounds of what was healthy,[citation needed] so entries such as these were removed. The Guinness Book also dropped records within their "eating and drinking records" section of Human Achievements in 1991 over concerns that potential competitors could do harm to themselves and expose the publisher to potential litigation. These changes included the removal of all liquor, wine and beer drinking records, along with other unusual records for consuming such unlikely things as bicycles and trees.

Other records, such as sword swallowing, were closed to further entry as the current holders had performed beyond what are considered safe human tolerance levels. There have been cases where closed records have been reopened. For example, the sword swallowing record was listed as closed in 1990 Guinness Book of World Records, but the Guinness World Records Primetime TV show, which started in 1998, accepted three sword swallowing challenges.

Chain letters are also not allowed. "Guinness World Records does not accept any records relating to chain letters, sent by post or e-mail. If you receive a letter or an e-mail, which may promise to publish the names of all those who send it on, please destroy it, it is a hoax. No matter if it says that Guinness World Records and the postal service are involved, they are not."


In recent years the Guinness company has permitted the franchising of small museums with displays based on the book, all currently (as of 2005) located in towns popular with tourists: Tokyo, Surfers Paradise, Copenhagen, San Francisco, San Antonio, Niagara Falls, Hollywood, Atlantic City, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There was also once a Guinness World Records exhibition at the Trocadero in London. While some displays are dramatic, like the statues of the world's tallest and shortest people, or videos of records being broken, much of the information is presented simply with text and photos.

Televison series

Guinness World Records has commissioned various television series documenting world record breaking attempts, including:

* Guinness World Records UK
* Guinness World Records Primetime
* Australia's Guinness World Records
* Guinness World Records: 50 Years, 50 Records
* Ultimate Guinness World Records

With the popularity of reality television, GWR began to market itself as the originator of the television genre, with slogans such as 'we wrote the book on Reality TV'. (Credit: Wikipedia).


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