Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge


1826 - formation of the SDUK was proposed at a meeting convened by Henry Brougham in Furnivall's Inn. The soiety's aim was to exploit advances in printing and distribution by publishing cheap, informative works to schools in order to promote reading and education. 1827 - started publishing sixpenny treatises in a series called, the Library of Useful Knowledge. 1828 - it was agreed that the society's publications would avoid party politics and religion, both in order to appeal to the widest audience and to avoid controversy among its members. 1832 - the Penny Magazine was started, a weekly paper of miscellaneous information. 1841 - work commenced on a Biographical Dictionary but was not completed beyond the letter A. 1845 - the society stopped operating after the sudden death of John Charles Spencer. 1846 - the SDUK affairs were wound up. Noteworthy members were Henry Brougham, James Mill, Zacharay Macaulay, Lord John Russell, George Birkbeck, Charles Knight and John Charles Spencer.