Posted by Ancestry Australia and New Zealand on June 14, 2010 in Content

We’ve launched Who’s Who in the World 1910-1911, featuring profiles of 4,000 international celebrities from a century ago;  including royalty, actors, artists and business tycoons.

The directory of biographies, which detail almost 4,000 entries of both famous and infamous people from over 20 countries, reveal uncanny similarities between the lives of celebrities 100 years ago and today.

Echoing so many current day rock stars and singers, the records detail the tragic life of Scottish-born singer Cecilia Loftus, who was addicted to painkillers and alcohol, frequently arrested, twice divorced and had frequent run-ins with the press.

Also featured is Emily Soldene, a celebrated Edwardian journalist and gossip columnist who reported on liaisons between wealthy gentlemen and young actresses – much like celebrity blogger Perez Hilton a century later.

Most uncanny are the results of the UK General Election in 1910, which not only ended in a hung parliament, but also a coalition government – between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The 1910 equivalent to David Cameron (Arthur Balfour) and Nick Clegg (H. H. Asquith) both feature among the records.

Other notable famous names in the collection include Florence Nightingale, Winston Churchill, Kaiser William II, Bram Stoker, H. G. Wells, Theodore Roosevelt, Sir Ernest Shackleton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Other colourful characters of the age in the records include:

  • Henry Labouchère – Labouchère was an English writer and journalist best known for writing the satirical publication the ‘Truth’, which was often sued for libel – much like Ian Hislop’s ‘Private Eye’ today
  • William Waldorf – Waldorf, 1st Viscount Astor, was one of America’s richest citizens and owner of the famous Waldolf Hotel. Despite a playboy lifestyle, he was generally dissatisfied with his life, which ended on the lavatory of his Brighton home when he died of congestive heart failure
  • Sir Henry Irving – Irving was the first English actor to be knighted and was a manager of the Lyceum theatre. He was a dark character, known as ‘The Governer’ to those under his supervision, and is thought to be the inspiration for the title character in Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula

These historic notables were selected for inclusion within ‘Who’s Who in the World’, based on the ‘virtue of their positions’ and ‘noteworthy achievements that have proved to be of significant value to society’. Their desire to be listed, wealth and social position were not considered.

The purpose was to chronicle individuals whose achievements made them subjects of widespread reference interest and inquiry. Information typically listed includes a person’s career, birth date and place, names of parents and family members, education, writings and creative works, civic activities, awards, political affiliation, religion, and addresses.

The directory’s origins date back to 1849 when the first UK edition was published. An American version was founded by Albert Nelson Marquis in 1899, which was followed by the worldwide version. Today, Marquis’ publishing company continues to print numerous editions of the ‘Who’s Who’.

Explore Who’s Who in the World 1910-1911

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