During a shooting party in County Wexford, Ireland, in 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver – then Managing Director of the Guinness Brewery – asked a simple question: what was Europe’s fastest game bird? Despite a heated argument and an exhaustive search within the host’s reference library the answer could not be found.
Sir Hugh realized that similar questions were going unanswered all around the world, and that a definitive book containing superlative facts and answers would be of great use to the general public.
Beaver’s idea became reality when Guinness employee Christopher Chataway recommended University friends 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. A thousand copies were printed and given away.