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Who’s Who in Late Hanoverian Britain

Review by Cheryl Bolen

Who’s Who in Late Hanoverian Britain 1789-1837
Geoffrey Treasure
Stackpole Books, 1997
423 pages, $29.95

When I saw the title of this book, I could not order it fast enough, and during the long wait for it to arrive from the UK I was as impatient as a bride to be.  But after it arrived, I was only happy that I had not paid the full cover price because it was not worth it.

The biographical essays recorded here are well done but not with the thoroughness of the online Dictionary of National Biography published by Oxford (which, admittedly, is expensive).

This volume is one of a six-part series on Who’s Who in British History. The biggest complaint with the series is its method of organization. The editors have decided to list the essays chronologically, which doesn’t sound bad.  Until the reader goes searching.  What criteria is used for determining the chronology? The person’s date of birth — or the date of the person’s greatest achievements? The editors don’t tell us.

This book is very hard to navigate. There is no Table of Contents, and nowhere in the book is there an alphabetical index. The “List of Entries” is completely useless for it is neither listed alphabetically nor does it give corresponding page numbers for the listed essays.

Furthermore, criteria for inclusions and omissions is not given. Horatio Nelson is listed, but not his inamorata, Emma Hamilton. In fact, of the 174 listings, only ten are for women. C’mon!

I suppose I was hoping for a bit more of a social who’s who of the era, sort of a mini, gossipy Burke’s Peerage.  Information on the persons who merit mention in this book — prime ministers, social philosophers, famed authors, leading military figures — is readibly available elsewhere, and in more depth. I recommend going elsewhere.

This review first appeared in The Quizzing Glass in April 2007.

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