Chambers Biographical Dictionary provides concise descriptions of over 18,000 notable figures from Britain and the rest of the world. It was first published in 1897.

The centenary edition (ISBN 0-550-16060-4) was edited by Melanie Parry and the revised edition (ISBN 0-550-18022-2) was edited by J. O. Thorne and T. C. Collocott.[1] The 9th edition, 2011, has biographies of over 18,000 people, most consisting of about a dozen lines in a two-column page layout. Some however run to 50 lines or more while Shakespeare covers two pages. Entries typically consist of place of birth, a summary on education or career, and achievements or publications. A single reference source is usually given.[2]

The publishers, Chambers Harrap, who were formerly based in Edinburgh, claim their Biographical Dictionary is the most comprehensive and authoritative single-volume biographical dictionary available, covering entries in such areas as sport, science, music, art, literature, politics, television, and film. The 1990 reprint is published by University Press, Cambridge.[1]

The centenary edition contained well over 17,500 alphabetically arranged articles describing the nationality, occupation, and achievements of each person, as well as 250 panels which focus on a wide variety of individuals regarded as being particularly important, influential, and interesting. Sources are given and there are thousands of suggestions for further reading.


  1. ^ a b Chambers Biographical Dictionary
  2. ^ M. A. Orthofer, "Chambers Biographical Dictionary", The Complete Review. Retrieved 25 September 2012.


  • Chambers, ed., Joan Bakewell, introduction: Chambers Biographical Dictionary, 9th edition, 2011, Chambers, 1,278 pages. ISBN 978-0550106933.