Online Encyclopedias


Compiled by Jayaram V

The Encyclopaedia Britannica made its first appearance in Scotland between 1768 and 1771, with just three volumes and a total of 2,391 pages. By 1797, when the third edition was completed, it had 18 volumes containing a wide range of topics, with articles contributed by several experts in their respective fields.

The Early Christian Encyclopedias

1. Institutiones (560 CE) of Cassiodorus'.

2. Etymologiae (636) of St. Isidore of Seville's .

3. Bibliotheca by the Patriarch Photius (9th century) which is earliest Byzantine work that qualifies as an encyclopedia

4. De Proprietatibus Rerum (1240) of Bartholomeus de Glanvilla

5. Speculum Majus (1260) of Vincent of Beauvais, which had over 3 million words.

The early Muslim encyclopedias are:

1. Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity.

2. Abu Bakr al-Razi's encyclopedia of science,

3. The Mutazilite Al-Kindi's prolific output of 270 books,

4. Ibn Sina's medical encyclopedia,

5. Works of universal history (or sociology) from Asharites,

6. Tabari's History of the Prophets and Kings,

7. Muqadimmah which contains cautions regarding trust in written records that remain wholly applicable today.

The early Chinese Encyclopedias

1. The Four Great Books of Song, compiled in the 11th century during the early Song Dynasty (960-1279),

2. The last encyclopedia of the four, the Prime Tortoise of the Record Bureau, with 9.4 million Chinese characters in 1000 written volumes.

3. The Dream Pool Essays of Shen Kuo (1031-1095)

4. The Nong Shu of Wang Zhen (1290-1333)

5. The written Tiangong Kaiwu of Song Yingxing (1587-1666).

6. Yongle Encyclopedia, one of the largest encyclopedias in history.

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Encyclopedia of British History: 1700-1930

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Cambridge History of English and American Literature

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Suggestions for Further Reading

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