Saturday, September 27, 2008

Guinness World Records

Guinness World Records 2009

The Guinness World Records current edition
Author None
Translator None
Illustrator Ian Bull, Trudi Webb
Cover artist Yeung Poon
Country Ireland
Language English, Arabic, Brazilian, Portuguese, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, Slovenian, Slovakian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish
Series Guinness World Records
Subject(s) World Records
Genre(s) Information
Publisher Hit Entertainment
Publication date 1955-present
Pages 288 (2006)
287 (2007)
289 (2008)
288 (2009)
ISBN ISBN 978-1-904994-37-4

Guinness World Records, known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records (and in previous U.S. editions as The Guinness Book of World Records), is a reference book published annually, containing an internationally recognized[vague] 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 of all-time.[1]




On 4 May 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 over which was the fastest game bird in Europe out of the koshin golden plover and 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.[2]

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.[3]

After founding the Guinness Book of Records at 107 Fleet Street, the first 197-page edition was bound on 27 August 1955 and went to the top of the British bestseller 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 in the show where questions about records posed by children were answered was called "Norris on the Spot".

Guinness World Records Limited was formed in 1954 to publish the first book. The group was owned by Guinness Brewery and subsequently Diageo until 2001, when it was purchased by Gullane Entertainment. Gullane was itself purchased by HiT Entertainment in 2002. In 2006, Apax Partners purchased HiT and subsequently sold Guinness World Records in early 2008 to the Jim Pattison Group, which is also the parent company of Ripley Entertainment, Inc..


Some world record attempts are more unusual than others: Suresh Joachim, minutes away from breaking the ironing world record at 55 hours and 5 minutes, at Shoppers World, Brampton.
Some world record attempts are more unusual than others: Suresh Joachim, minutes away from breaking the ironing world record at 55 hours and 5 minutes, at Shoppers World, Brampton.

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 for longest time spent playing Grand Theft Auto IV, attempted by a member of Bush League TV, 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.[4]

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 newest records are added, and the records that have been updated are added too.

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-oriented reference book, to an illustrated product. This shift means that the majority of world records are no longer listed in the book (or on the website), and can only be determined by a written application to Guinness to 'break' the record. For those unable to wait the 4-6 weeks for a reply, Guinness will process a 'fasttrack' application for GBP 300 (US$600).

Critics (including McWhirter) have pointed out that since Norris McWhirter's dismissal, the series has become prone to creating record categories simply in order to name-drop contemporary popular celebrities to boost sales.[citation needed] One notorious example was the genesis of a "Most Successful Virtual Band" category in 2001, which was duly won by Gorillaz, whose debut album had sold heavily worldwide - however, as the only other such "virtual bands" that had ever existed were Alvin and the Chipmunks and a number of Hanna Barbera cartoon characters, it was hardly a noteworthy "world record".

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.

Guinness World Records does 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 "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.[5]

In February 2008, NBC aired 'The Top 100 Guinness World Records of All Time.' The complete countdown from 100 down to 1 is available at

Ethical issues and safety concerns

Steven Petrosino drinking 500 ml beer in 0.4 seconds in June 1977. Guinness accepted only the record for one litre, but later dropped all beer and alcohol records from their compendium in 1991.
Steven Petrosino drinking 500 ml beer in 0.4 seconds in June 1977.[6][7] Guinness accepted only the record for one litre, but later dropped all beer and alcohol records from their compendium in 1991.

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.[8]

Other records, such as sword swallowing and rally driving (on public roads), were closed from 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 (and so did the 2007 edition of the Guinness World Records).

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."[9]


Guinness Museum in Hollywood.
Guinness Museum in Hollywood.

In 1976, a Guinness Book of World Records Exhibit Hall was opened on the lower concourse of the Empire State Building. Speed shooter Bob Munden was on tour promoting the Guinness World Record series of Dixie cups and set a new speed record, drawing, cocking, and firing a single-action revolver in .02 seconds.[10] Among other exhibits were life-size statues of the world's tallest man (Robert Wadlow) and world's largest earth worm, an X-ray photo of a sword swallower, repeated lightning strike victim Roy Sullivan's hat complete with lightning holes and a pair of gem-studded golf shoes for sale for $6500.[11] That exhibit closed several years ago.

In more recent years the Guinness company has permitted the franchising of small museums with displays based on the book, all currently (as of 2008) located in towns popular with tourists: Tokyo, Copenhagen, San Antonio, Niagara Falls, Hollywood and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, with a new location scheduled to open in Bangalore, India.

There were once Guinness World Records exhibitions at the Trocadero in London, Surfers Paradise, San Francisco, Atlantic City, New Jersey and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but these locations have closed.

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.

Television series

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

  • Guinness World Records UK
  • Guinness World Records Primetime
  • The Guinness Game
  • Australia's Guinness World Records
  • Guinness World Records: 50 Years, 50 Records
  • Ultimate Guinness World Records
  • Lo show dei record (Italian version)
  • El show de los récords (Spanish version)

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'.

The McWhirters co-presented the BBC television programme Record Breakers with Roy Castle from 1972 until Ross's death in 1975; Norris continued appearing on the show until his retirement in 1994.

Guinness World Records Launches 2009 Edition


On 17th September 2008, Guinness World Records releases the 2009 edition of the internationally-revered-bestseller in the first-ever worldwide launch.

54 years and counting, the globally acclaimed book surpassed Jamie Oliver and Russell Brand during nine consecutive weeks at # 1 on the UK best-seller list in 2007. This year, Guinness World Records 2009 hits the scene even bigger and better than its predecessor with thousands of new and updated records, unique photography and - for the first time ever - 3D special features. In an eclectic mix of content, the upcoming edition remains loyal to old favourites Tallest Living Man, epic journeys such as Fastest Round the World Cycle and record-breaking athleticism The Men’s 100 m,while introducing eye-catching new features such as life-size gatefolds of the new Shortest Man, 3D dinosaurs and pictures, and record sections devoted solely to Harry Potter and celebrities in the “Hollywood Hall of Fame”.

Among pages of brand new achievements, Guinness World Records presents updates on many of its classic records. The 2009 edition reveals Edna Parker (US) as the Oldest Living Person (114 years and 115 days); 105-year old Edith Gulliford (UK) as the Oldest Bridesmaid; and for canine lovers, the Longest Dog, Irish Wolfhound Mon Ami von der Oelmühle, with an impressive nose-to-tail-tip length of 232 cm (91.3 in).

In the cinematic arena, a number of high calibre stars achieved amazing feats. Samuel L Jackson set the record for the Highest Grossing Actor with a whopping 68 movies at a total gross of $7.42 billion (£3.94 billion). Fans of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (both USA) can celebrate that the actor/director union between the two became the Most Lucrative Movie Partnership ever formed, as their five blockbuster films netted an amazing £287m ($570.6 million). Angelina Jolie seizes last year’s shared record from Jennifer Aniston and goes solo as Most Powerful Actress. Meanwhile, Jolie’s husband (and Aniston’s ex) Brad Pitt topples Tom Cruise as Most Powerful Actor,clearly crowning “Brangelina” Hollywood’s most powerful couple. Other record-breakers include the 21 Bond movies and Transformers (USA, 2007) which mark the Highest Grossing Movie Series and Most Downloaded Movie respectively.

From the world of television, the new edition recognizes Lost (ABC) as the Most Downloaded Show of all time, however, in a bizarre record twist it loses its title for Most Popular TV Show to hospital drama House (Fox), starring Hugh Laurie (UK) as the unconventional maverick Dr Gregory.

In the world of music, fallen pop princess Britney Spears once again creates headlines as she beats party pal Paris Hilton as the Most Searched Person on the Internet. The UK can also pride itself on an impressive line-up of British music record-breakers in the upcoming book. The Sugababes’ single ‘About You Now’ became the First Track by a British Pop Act to Top the Singles Chart solely on the strength of download sales and broke long standing record Biggest Chart Mover to the No.1 Position in the UK jumping from No. 35 to top spot beating previous record Captian Sensible’s ‘Happy Talk’ from 1982. X Factor winner Leona Lewis seized the spot for Best Selling Debut Album in the UK in One Week by a Female with her debut album Spirit, also creating another new record for Fastest Selling Album to Reach 1 Million Copies in the UK by a Female Artist. Singer and tabloid favourite Amy Winehouse made it into Guinness World Records 2009 through her achievement for the Most Grammy Awards Won by a British female Act as she took home five of the six awards that she was nominated for at the annual LA Grammy Awards show in 2008. However, it’s not just the rising stars of the UK who receive accolades in this year’s edition; Led Zeppelin broke the world record for the Highest Demand for Tickets for One Music Concert when 20 million requests came through the 02 Arena for the one-time reunion show in December 2007. Sir Paul McCartney became the Most Successful Songwriter who has written/co written 188 charted records, of which 91 reached the Top 10 and 33 made it to No.1 totalling 1,662 weeks on the chart (up to the beginning of 2008)

Those who count on Guinness World Records to deliver the wacky, weird and bizarre will not be disappointed! This year’s edition includes the world record for the Youngest Club DJ (7 years and 98 days) the Most Breast Milk Donated by 1 Person (135.5 litres), the Largest Underwater Press Conference (61 journalists) and the Most Dangerous Cheese to human health, Casu Marzu (''rotten cheese'').

The 2009 Edition also presents a special feature devoted solely to the international phenomenon known as Guinness World Records Day. This day celebrates the anniversary of Guinness World Records officially becoming the biggest best selling copyright book of all time. Last year more than 100,000 people united across the globe to break records and make their mark in Guinness World Records history. This section of the book highlights all of the new achievements recorded on this day in 2007 and provides information on how to get involved with Guinness World Records Day 2008 on 13th November.

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