on February 14, 2001
This dictionary is subdivided into five sections: Introduction; Dates, Index, Chronology of World Events; Chronology of Scientific Developments; Kings and Queens of England and the United Kingdom; Prime Ministers and Presidents.
It lists significant events on a daily basis such as the birth on 1 January of the British novelist Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849) and the poet Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-61) remembered for the verse "Thou shalt not kill: but need'st not strive Officiously to keep alive".
Each daily entry lists a myriad of interesting scientific, literary, social and historical facts. Walt Disney, American innovator in the movie world, was born 5 December 1901, and on this day in 1933 Americans witnessed the ending of prohibition.
The alphabetical index gives easy access to all events and people listed in the book. However, in some ways I found this rather tedious. For example the listing for Gilbert, Sir William Schwenck guides readers to 3, 13, 24 May; 18, 29 Nov. To find Sir William's birthday you must read all five entries but you will find no details of his death. The entry for 24 May does not refer to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert but to William Gilbert (1540-1603) the royal physician to Elizabeth I and James I. This William Gilbert does not appear in the index!
The Chronology of World Events lists events from Palaeolithic Man to modern times, often in great detail. Nevertheless, I found one entry very frustrating. In 1853 Beeching lists the invention of the syringe in France but does not identify the inventor.
The Chronology of Scientific Developments is subdivided into sections: Medical Science, Telecommunications Revolution, Space Exploration, and Computer Technology. It provides all the information possible within the confines of a small reference book and is a useful stepping stone to further research.
The final sections, Kings and Queens of England and the United Kingdom, and Prime Ministers and Presidents are exactly what their titles imply. Both are clearly laid out reference tools, interesting and invaluable to students and casual readers alike.
On the whole A Dictionary of Dates is a good read. For a small, barely larger than pocket-sized almanac, the dictionary is exceptional value for money and packed full of factual and interesting material.