Annual Register20 November 2009
Source: Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politicks and Literature of the Year, Rare Book Collection #D 2 A7
Staff Person: Ralph Scott
Annual Register, or a View of the History, Politicks and Literature of the Year…, was printed by James and Robert Dodsley and edited by Edmund Burke (1729-1797) a Whig statesman, political theorist, and philosopher. The first volume came in 1758. Burke is remembered primarily for his A Vindication of Natural Society (1756) and his opposition to the French Revolution. The Register is an important historical reference work and is an annual review of the year’s major events, developments, and views of world events. It was an early forerunner of modern works like the World Almanac. In the Annual Register the editor has selected essays or articles describing important events in sports, arts, religion, science, law, history, politics, government, and the environment that happened during the past year. Obituaries, book reviews, book digests, letters and selected documents are also included. For example, the 1758 volume (the first year) contains a lengthy account of a fire on board H.M.S. Prince George, off Lisbon. A midshipman writes of the fire, “Such a terrible fight the oldest men of the fleet say they never saw,” as the crew struggled to save the vessel. Of the ship’s complement of 745, only 260 were saved by crews of the H.M.S. Glasgow and Alderney. A Rev. Sharpe on the Prince George noted that more might have been saved by the crew of the Alderney, had not the crew also been so “employed in saving geese, fowls, tables, chairs, and whatever else of the kind [that] came near them.”
The Annual Register is still published today by ProQuest. The Rare Book Collection in Special Collections has a set that runs from 1758 to 1825. Most of the volumes have been rebound in library buckram, but one year, 1784, is in the original binding. This volume has the bookplate of the Rev. Alexander Scott, who was chaplain to Vice Admiral Horation Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronte. Scott was chaplain to Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar and also served as Nelson’s private secretary.
Special Collections Rare D 2 A7