Guinness Book of World Records

The first Guinness Book of World Records was published on August 27th 1955. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, here are some of the most impressive book-themed records:

guinness cover

The first ever Guinness Book of Records, now in its 60th year

The record for Most portrayed literary human character in film and TV was awarded in 2012 to Sherlock Holmes, who has been played by over 75 actors including Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Christopher Lee and American actor Robert Downey Jr. Find the books by Arthur Conan Doyle in the BOOK ZONE 823.91 DOY

guinness sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the most recent actors to portray Sherlock Holmes on television 

The overall most portrayed literary character isn’t human at all- Dracula, created by Bram Stoker in 1897, has an incredible 272 screen credits. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is one of the closest adaptations- find it in the BOOK ZONE 823.91 STO. Hammer Films’ Prince of Darkness is less scary, but no less iconic- find it in the Best of Hammer Collection in the DVD LOBBY 791.43.

guinness dracula

Actor Gary Oldman on the set of Dracula in 1992

The Youngest person to write and publish a book is Adauto Kovalski da Silva from Brazil, whose book Learning is Easy was published when he was just five years old. The record for Longest literary gestation (or longest period from conception to completion) has been awarded to Germany- the German dictionary, which was started by fairytale authors Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, wasn’t finished until 1971- that’s 117 years in the making! Find the Grimm’s famous collection of folk tales in the BOOK ZONE 398.2 GRI.

There are many records relating to the plays of William Shakespeare. In 1987, Adrian Hilton spent 110 hours and 46 minutes (or 4 ½ days!) reciting Shakespeare’s complete works, smashing the record for the Longest theatre performance. Shakespeare in Love (NORFOLK HOUSE 791.43) a film in which an aspiring female actress disguises herself to appear on the Elizabethan stage, was awarded 15 Bafta nominations, more than any single British film.

guinness shakespeare

Gwyneth Paltrow’s character Viola is disguised as a boy in order to play Romeo

The first author to Sell more than one million eBooks was James Patterson, creator of Alex Cross and the Women’s Murder Club. Later that month, Stieg Larsson sold one million eBook copies of the first book in his Millennium Trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. If you prefer paper to reading on-screen, find it in the BOOK ZONE 823.91 LAR

guinness girl

Lisbeth Salander, or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, carries out research in a newspaper archive

The Number of stairs climbed in one minute whilst balancing books on the head is currently set at 122 (the aforementioned stairs are on the New York subway, between Lexington Ave. and 63rd St) Finally, the Most books toppled in a domino fashion (a record we really don’t want you to try and break!) is held by a UK company, United Biscuits. In 2015 they knocked over 5,318 copies of the current Book of World Records in 2 minutes and 27 seconds.


Staff at United Biscuits prepare over 5,000 books, only to topple them over in record time

Explore the Guinness archive online here. Have you ever attempted or successfully broken a record? Share your story on our Facebook page.


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