The Guinness Book of World Records is intimately tied to the famous Guinness Brewery, known in particularly for its heady stout beer. The beer long precedes the book. The beer was brewed in the beginning of the 18th century. The book, on the other hand, was not published until 1955.
The Guinness Brewery can only claim partial responsibility for the book. Sir Hugh Beaver was, in 1954, the managing director of the Brewery. On a hunting trip, he got in an argument with a friend regarding the relative quickness of the plover and the grouse. Each man took a stand on which bird was the quickest. Sir Hugh considered the argument upon returning from his trip and felt what was needed was a book that would answer such questions.
In 1951, twins Norris and Ross McWhirter had started a publishing company to research such questions and supply them to periodicals. They had written an article on an athlete employed at Guinness, Christopher Chataway. Chataway introduced Sir Hugh to the brothers. The meeting culminated in a partnership and the beginning of Guinness Superlatives, a publishing company.
The first book sold extremely well, inspiring both the publishing company and the McWhirters to set forth on writing an annual book. In 1975, however, the once happy partnership between the brothers and Guinness ended. Ross McWhirter argued with the Guinness Company regarding their stance on the terrorist attacks being conducted by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in London. He offered a reward for information regarding the terrorists and was murdered a few weeks later.
The Guinness Book of World Records holds some of its own records. For instance, it is the book most frequently stolen from libraries. As well, it is the world’s highest selling copyrighted book, with over 100 million books sold in over 30 languages.