The Imperial Dictionary of Univeral Biography (S&N, 3 CD-ROMs, £24.95) is one of those splendid Victorian undertakings, an attempt to summarise all those who had contributed to the development of Western civilisation up to the nineteenth century. The contributors did not confine themselves to British people alone. Although the frontispiece proudly proclaims that it is a 'series of original memoires of distinguished men', a few women are included. Those regarded as distinguished enough for inclusion are largely Europeans and Americans and include biographical outlines of people who, though intellectually fashionable in their time, are no longer regarded as of enduring importance, and so do not appear in the Dictionary of National Biography. Since the DNB confined itself to British people, this Imperial Dictionary is a useful supplement. an eminently browsable publication for family historians and a useful addition to the crossword addict's library.