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Debrett’s (/dəˈbrets/[1]) is a specialist publisher, founded in 1769 with the publication of the first edition of The New Peerage. The name "Debrett's" honours John Debrett (see below). This genealogical guide to the British aristocracy evolved into a keystone of British society and is published today under the name Debrett’s Peerage & Baronetage, a book which includes a short history of the family of each titleholder. Its only rival publication is Burke's Peerage. The editor of Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage is Charles Kidd, an expert in his field who has worked at Debrett's for over 30 years.



Debrett's has published a range of guides on traditional British etiquette, dating from the mid 1900s. Those now out of print include Debrett's Correct Form in the Middle East, Debrett's Guide to Entertaining, Debrett's Guide to the Season, Debrett's Etiquette and Modern Manners, The English Gentleman, Debrett's Guide to Correspondence by Rolf Kurth, and a range of guides to families and counties in England and Scotland, histories of royal engagements and weddings, and cookery books.

In 2006, Debrett's updated its Correct Form – the definitive guide to forms of address in the UK – to include a section on Business Etiquette, and another on American Usage. 2007 saw the publication of a new Debrett's Wedding Guide, a full-colour book with advice on every aspect of the modern wedding, including traditional form for invitations, chapters on the roles and responsibilities of the bridal party, and a listing of who pays for what.

In recent years, books such as Debrett’s Etiquette for Girls, Debrett's A – Z of Modern Manners and Debrett's Guide for The Modern Gentleman have appeared.

In 2010 Debrett's published Thoroughly Modern Motoring Manners and Petiquette, along with the 148th edition of Peerage & Baronetage and the 2011 edition of People of Today. A special edition of Guide for The Modern Gentleman was also produced for Movember, the men's health charity, in support of its 2010 Modern Gentleman campaign theme. And the 2010 luxury diary range having sold out in 2009, the 2011 diary was published in a range of exciting and contemporary colours.

Debrett's diaries featured in The Independent's top 10 diary list for 2007, 2008 and 2009.[citation needed] The Chairman of Debrett's is Conrad Free.

Debrett's People of Today

Debrett's People of Today, an annual publication (formerly known as Debrett's Distinguished People of Today), is a rival to Who's Who. It is published annually and is said[2] to catalogue the biographies of Britain's most distinguished figures and to be a wide-ranging study of those Britons and foreign nationals working in Britain whose achievements have raised them to renown as leaders in their respective fields, listing biographies of peers, academics, writers, business leaders, civil servants, clergy and politicians alongside those of men and women from the worlds of the arts, the media, fashion, music and sport.

It contains biographical details of approximately 25,000 notable people from the entire spectrum of British society.[3] The selection of entrants is made by the editorial staff of Debrett's and entries are reviewed annually to ensure accuracy and relevance. Entries include details of career, education, family, recreations and membership of clubs as well as contact addresses. An additional feature is the correct style of address to be used when addressing correspondence to an entrant.

Like its rival publication the British Who's Who selection of entrants is at the Editorial Team's discretion and there is no payment or obligation to purchase. However unlike Who's Who, entrants are removed if they are no longer deemed to be suitable for inclusion.[4][5]

Appearances in popular culture

In William Makepeace Thackeray's classic novel Vanity Fair (1847), the elderly aristocrat Sir Pitt Crawley is described as "a selfish boor [...] unworthy of his title" despite his name being in Debrett's. Sherlock Holmes turns frequently to Debrett's as a standard work of reference.[citation needed] Debrett's is mentioned in The Picture of Dorian Gray and Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, both by Oscar Wilde, and is referred to satirically as a sacred book in the short story "Reginald at the Theatre" by Saki. In George Orwell's Burmese Days, Mrs. Lackersteen is described as reading the Civil List, "the Debrett of Burma". An out-of-date Debrett's is a key plot element in an Elizabeth Mapp story (1920–1939) by E.F. Benson. Debrett's Peerage is mentioned in P.G. Wodehouse novels, especially the Blandings stories, in which it is often referred to by Lord Emsworth. In Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (1945), Charles Ryder mentions Sebastian's family, to which Sebastian replies "There are lots of us. Look them up in Debrett".

More recently, Debrett's is mentioned in John le Carré's spy novel The Tailor of Panama. Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners was a guest publication on Have I Got News for You in 1999. In the fashion sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, the character of Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) calls Debrett's the "Who's Who in what's left of the British aristocracy". Debrett's Correct Form is mentioned by the cartoonist Giles. In the adult comic Viz, a strip called Billy Connolly has the titular character, who wishes to win the favour of the Queen, perusing a copy of Debrett's. In the Sky TV Show So You Think You're Royal, families who successfully proved heritage to the royal family were entered into Debrett's.

John Debrett

John Debrett (1753–15 November 1822) was the London-born son of Jean Louys de Bret, a French cook of Huguenot extraction. As a boy of thirteen, John Debrett was apprenticed to a Piccadilly bookseller and publisher, Robert Davis. He remained there until 1780, when he moved to John Almon, bookseller and stationer. John Almon edited and published his first edition of The New Peerage in 1769, and went on to produce at least three further editions. By 1790 he had passed the editorship on to John Debrett who, in 1802, put his name to the two small volumes that made up The Correct Peerage of England, Scotland and Ireland. Despite twice being declared bankrupt, Debrett continued as a bookseller, and retired in 1814. He was found dead at his lodgings on 15 November 1822, and was buried at St James's, Piccadilly.[6]

References and sources

  • Hankinson, Cyril Francis James. My Forty Years with Debrett. London: R. Hale, 1963.

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Debrett’s — ➡ Debrett * * * …   Universalium

  • Debrett's — Debrett’s UK [dəˈbrets] US a book that gives information about British aristocrats (=people from the highest social classes) Thesaurus: members of royal families and the… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Debrett — This famous surname is French and almost certainly of Huguenot refugee origins. First recorded in the British Isles during the reign of Oliver Cromwell (1654 1658) it owes its later fame and fortune to John Debrett (1750 1822), a London publisher …   Surnames reference

  • Debrett — (also Debrett’s) the popular name for Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage, a book containing lists and information about the royal family, the peerage and other people in Britain who hold titles of rank. The name is also used to refer to other books …   Universalium

  • Debrett's — De|brett s also Debrett a book that is a guide to the British royal family and other upper class families in the UK. It provides information about members of these families, the properties they own, and their history …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Debrett's — De|brett s [ də brets ] a book that gives information about British ARISTOCRATS (=people from the highest social classes) …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Debrett's — UK [dəˈbrets] / US a book that gives information about British aristocrats (= people from the highest social classes) …   English dictionary

  • Debrett — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Debrett's Peerage — ▪ British periodical in full  Debrett s Peerage and Baronetage        guide to the British peerage (titled aristocracy), first published in London in 1802 by John Debrett as Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Debrett s Peerage contains… …   Universalium

  • Debrett’s Peerage and Baronetage —  Guide to British aristocracy …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

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