Ephraim Chambers

Ephraim Chambers

Ephraim Chambers (c1680 - 15 May 1740), was an English writer and encyclopedist, who is primarily known for producing the Cyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences. [Robert Lewis Collison reminds us that Chambers attained the distinction of "father of the modern encylopaedia throughout the world." (Encyclopaedias: Their History Throughout the Ages, 2d ed., p.103, Hafner, New York & London, 1966.) cited in [http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/HistSciTech/subcollections/CyclopaediaAbout.shtml University of Wisconsin] ]

Early life

Chambers was born in Kendal, Westmorland, England, and attended Heversham Grammar School there. Little is known of his early life, other than that he was apprenticed to a globe-maker, John Senex, in London from 1714-1721. It was here that he developed the plan of the "Cyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences". However, after beginning the Cyclopedia, he left Senex's service and devoted himself entirely to the encyclopedia project. He also took chambers in Gray's Inn, where he remained for the rest of his life (Espinasse 2004).


The first edition of the "Cyclopedia" appeared by subscription in 1728, in two folio volumes, and was dedicated to the King. The encyclopedia was subsequently republished and expanded several times. See the "Cyclopedia" article for a complete printing history.

The Cyclopedia provided the inspiration for the landmark "Encyclopédie" of Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert, which began as a French translation of Chambers' work that was begun in 1743 and finished in 1745 by John Mills, assisted by Gottfried Sellius.

Other writing

In addition to the "Cyclopaedia", Chambers wrote for and possibly edited the "Literary Magazine" (1735-1736), which mainly published book reviews. Chambers worked on translating other works in French on perspective and chemistry from 1726 to 1727, including the "Practice of Perspective from the French of Jean Dubreuil". He also worked with John Martyn to translate the "History and Memoirs of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris" (1742) (Espinasse 2004, Britannica 1911).


Chambers died on May 15, 1740. He was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey (Espinasse 2004). His epitaph was published in both the original Latin and in English in the "Gentleman's Magazine", volume 10, as follows (translation is the original):

:"Multis pervulgatus":"paucis notus":"Qui vitam inter lucem et umbram" :"Nec eruditus nec idiota" :"Literis deditus transegit, sed ut homo":"Qui humani nihil a se alienum putat":"Vita simul et laboribus functus" :"Hic requiescere voluit":"EPHRAIM CHAMBERS."

:In English thus:

:"Heard of by many," :"Known to few",:"Who led a Life between Fame and Obscurity":"Neither abounding nor deficient in Learning":"Devoted to Study, but as a Man":"Who thinks himself bound to all Offices of Humanity,":"Having finished his Life and Labours together," :"Here desires to rest":"EPHRAIM CHAMBERS."


*Bradshaw, Lael Ely. "Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopedia." In: "Notable Encyclopedias of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: Nine Predecessors of the Encyclopédie". Ed. Frank Kafker. Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 1981. 123-137.

*"Mr. Ephraim Chambers." "The Gentleman's Magazine" v. 10 (May 1740): p. 262.

*"Ephraim Chambers." Article in 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

*Espinasse, Francis. "Chambers, Ephraim (1680?–1740)," rev. Michael Harris. In "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography." Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.


External links

* [http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/HistSciTech/subcollections/CyclopaediaAbout.shtml Chamber's Cyclopaedia] , digitized and placed online by the [http://uwdc.library.wisc.edu/ University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center] .

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ephraim Chambers — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Portada de la Cyclopaedia Ephraim Chambers ( * Kendal, 1680 Islington, 15 de mayo de 1740) fue un Enciclopedista inglés. Nació en Kendal, W …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ephraim Chambers — (* um 1680 in Kendal; † 15. Mai 1740 in Islington (heute London)) war ein englischer Schriftsteller. Er war der Herausgeber und größtenteils auch Verfasser eines der ersten enzyklopädischen Wörterbücher der Künste und Wissenschaften. Nach ihm ist …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ephraim Chambers — Ephraïm Chambers Pour les articles homonymes, voir Chambers. La Cyclopaedia de Chambers. Ephraïm Chambers, né à Kendal …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ephraim Chambers — (Kendal, 1680 Islington, 15 de mayo de 1740). Enciclopedista inglés. Nació en Kendal, Westmorland, en la última parte del Siglo XVII. Fue un aprendiz con un fabricante de Globos en Londres, pero habiendo concebido el plan de su Cyclopaedia, o… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Ephraïm Chambers — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Chambers. La Cyclopaedia de Chambers. Ephraïm Chambers, né à Kendall, Westmorland, en 1680 et mort dans la banlieue de Londres, à Islington …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ephraim — (1842–44) von Francesco Hayez Ephraim ist ein männlicher Vorname, der auf die Tradition des biblischen Stammes Ephraim zurückgeht. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • CHAMBERS (E.) — CHAMBERS EPHRAÏM (1680 env. 1740) Publiciste et encyclopédiste anglais, né à Kendal, dans le Westmorland et mort à Islington, dans le Middlesex. D’origine modeste, Ephraïm Chambers fit ses études dans sa ville natale, puis entra comme apprenti… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Chambers — ist der Name folgender Orte in den Vereinigten Staaten: Chambers (Alabama) Chambers (Arizona) Chambers (Kentucky) Chambers (Louisiana) Chambers (Nebraska) Chambers (New York) Chambers (Oklahoma) Chambers (Tennessee) Chambers (Washington) Chambers …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chambers (surname) — Chambers is a common surname of English origin. It usually denoted either a servant who worked in his master s private chambers, or a camararius, a person in charge of an exchequer room. At the time of the British census of 1881 [1], the relative …   Wikipedia

  • Chambers's Encyclopaedia — was founded in 1860 by W. R. Chambers. It has no relationship with the Chambers Cyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences of Ephraim Chambers in the 18th century, except that the latter shared the same name as the publisher of… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”