c. 213 BC: The Qin Emperor and history’s first book burning

Unknown illustrator, c. 1850 (Public Domain)


Around 213 BC, China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang orders the burning of books on history and philosophy. This is the first book burning in recorded history.


“I have collected all the writings of the Empire and burnt those which were of no use”
– Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC)