John Murray (Publishers)
From Classic Encyclopedia 1911
JOHN MURRAY, the name for several generations of a great firm of London publishers, founded by John McMurray (1745-1793), a native of Edinburgh and a retired lieutenant of marines, who in 1768 bought the book business of William Sandby in Fleet Street, and, dropping the Scottish prefix, called himself John Murray. He was one of the twenty original proprietors of the Morning Chronicle, and started the monthly English Review (1783-1796). Among his publications were Mitford's Greece, Langhorne's Plutarch's Lives, and the first part of Isaac D'Israeli's Curiosities of Literature. He died on the 6th of November 1793.
John Murray (2) (1778-1843), his son, was then fifteen. During his minority the business was conducted by Samuel Highley, who was admitted a partner, but in 1803 the partnership was dissolved. Murray soon began to show the courage in literary speculation which earned for him later the name given him by Lord Byron of "the Anak of publishers." In 1807 he took a share with Constable in publishing Marmion, and became part owner of the Edinburgh Review, although with the help of Canning he launched in opposition the Quarterly Review (Feb. 1809), with William Gifford as its editor, and Scott, Canning, Southey, Hookham Frere and John Wilson Croker among its earliest contributors. Murray was closely connected with Constable, but, to his distress, was compelled in 1813 to break this association on account of Constable's business methods, which, as he foresaw, led to disaster. In 1811 the first two cantos of Childe Harold were brought to Murray by R. C. Dallas, to whom Byron had presented them. Murray paid Dallas 500 guineas for the copyright. In 1812 he bought the publishing business of William Miller (1769-1844), and migrated to 50, Albemarle Street. Literary London flocked to his house, and Murray became the centre of the publishing world. It was in his drawing-room that Scott and Byron first met, and here, in 1824, after the death of Lord Byron, the MS. of his memoirs, considered by Gifford unfit for publication, was destroyed. A close friendship existed between Byron and his publisher, but for political reasons business relations ceased after the publication of the 5th canto of Don Juan. Murray paid Byron some £ 20,000 for his various poems. To Thomas Moore he gave nearly £5000 for writing the life of Byron, and to Crabbe £3000 for Tales of the Hall. He died on the 27th of June 1843.
His son, John Murray (3) (1808-1892), inherited much of his business tact and judgment. "Murray's Handbooks" for travellers were issued under his editorship, and he himself wrote several volumes (see his article on the "Handbooks" in Murray's Magazine, November 1889). He published many books of travel; also Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors, The Speaker's Commentary, Smith's Dictionaries; and works by Hallam, Gladstone, Lyell, Layard, Dean Stanley, Borrow, Darwin, Livingstone and Samuel Smiles. He died on the 2nd of April 1892, and was succeeded by his eldest son, John Murray (4) (b. 1851), under whom, in association with his brother, A. H. Hallam Murray, the firm was continued.
See Samuel Smiles, A Publisher and his Friends, Memoirs and Correspondence of the late John Murray ... (1891), for the second John Murray; a series of three articles by F. Espinasse on "The House of Murray," in The Critic (Jan. 1860); and a paper by the same writer in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (Sept. 1885). See the Letters and Journals of Byron (ed. Prothero, 1898-1901).