The Statesman's Yearbook

"The Statesman's Yearbook" is a one-volume reference book providing information on the countries of the world.

The First Edition

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Prime Minister Robert Peel suggested to Alexander Macmillan (of the family publishing house) the publication of “a handbook presenting in a compact shape a picture of the actual conditions, political and social of the various states in the civilised world.”

Some years later, the renowned historian Thomas Carlyle and his friend William Gladstone, introduced Carlyle’s assistant Frederick Martin to Macmillan. German-born Martin, Macmillan realised, was just the man to produce such a handbook.

So it was that an agreement was signed in December 1862 for ‘A Statistical, Genealogical, and Historical Account of the States and Sovereigns of the Civilised World’. Thirteen months later the first "Statesman’s Yearbook" went on sale. It cost 8 shillings and 4 pence.

Queen Victoria was on the throne and Civil War was raging in America when this first "Statesman’s Yearbook" appeared in January 1864.

In the preface to this first edition, Martin declared: “The great aim has been to insure an absolute correctness of the multiplicity of fact and figures in "The Statesman’s Yearbook".”


Frederick Martin presided over the book for twenty years, during which time it became established as a leading reference work.

His successor, well-known Scottish journalist John Scott Keltie, took over in 1883. A talented author, editor and scholar and a passionate geographer, he introduced the insertion of thumbnail maps of each country and large political world maps.

After Scott-Keltie’s death, his sometime co-editor Mortimer Epstein took over and edited the work for over twenty years including, remarkably, during World War II when the book continued to be published yearly, despite the rationing of paper.

Epstein died in 1946, and his successor Henry Steinberg was faced with the challenge of producing a new "Statesman’s Yearbook" for an ever-changing world, as new countries came into being and others ceased to exist. His passion for the task, sharp mind and amiable nature meant that "The Statesman’s Yearbook" swiftly adapted to the new world order.

Steinberg carried "The Statesman’s Yearbook" through to the end of the Swinging Sixties. His assistant John Paxton then led the book through the following two decades and retired, like Margaret Thatcher, in 1990.

List of Editors

*Frederick Martin (1894–1883)
*Sir John Scott-Keltie (1883–1926)
*Mortimer Epstein (1927–1946)
*S.H. Steinberg (1946–1969)
*John Paxton (1969–1990)
*Brian Hunter (1990–1997)
*Barry Turner (1997–Present)

Current Edition

Today, under the editorship of Barry Turner, "The Statesman’s Yearbook" continues to provide comprehensive information on the current, political, economic and social status of every country in the world.

From 2007 every copy of "The Statesman’s Yearbook" will come with access to a fully searchable, regularly updated website.

As a new addition for "The Statesman’s Yearbook 2007", the book will now include new half-page line maps for every country. These maps will show state names and boundaries (where relevant), location of major cities and names of bordering countries, giving the reader a clearer picture of the political geography. This addition would no doubt have delighted Scott-Keltie who was also editor of "The Geographical Journal", whilst presiding over "The Statesman’s Yearbook" for over 40 years.

This additional content and the accompanying website will continue Martin’s aim to “insure an absolute correctness of the multiplicity of fact and figures” and maintain the impartiality and accuracy for which the book is well-known. "The Statesman’s Yearbook" remains the essential one-volume reference product that Gladstone, Macmillan and Martin envisaged almost a century and a half ago.


*"The Statesman’s Yearbook 2006", Palgrave Macmillan, (Basingstoke and New York, 2005)

External links

* []
* []

ee also

*The World Factbook

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