World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

John Murray (publisher)

John Murray (publisher)
John Murray
Parent company Hachette UK (brand under Lagardère Group)
Status active
Founded 1768
Founder John Murray
Country of origin England
Headquarters location London
Publication types Books
Official website

John Murray is an English publisher, known for the authors it has published in its history, including Lord Byron, Charles Lyell, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Herman Melville, Edward Whymper, and Charles Darwin. Since 2004, it has been owned by conglomerate Lagardère under the Hachette UK brand.


  • History 1
  • John Murray archive 2
  • John Murray timeline 3
  • Film adaptations of John Murray titles 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


John Murray I (1745–1793), the eponymous founder of the publishing house

The business was founded in London in 1768 by John Murray I (1745–1793), an Edinburgh-born Royal Marines officer, who built up a list of authors including Isaac D'Israeli and published the English Review.[1]

John Murray the elder was one of the founding sponsors of the London evening newspaper The Star in 1788.[2]

He was succeeded by his son, Albemarle Street in Mayfair was the centre of a literary circle, fostered by Murray's tradition of "Four o'clock friends", afternoon tea with his writers.

Murray's most notable author was Lord Byron, who became a close friend and correspondent of his. Murray published many of his major works, paying him over £20,000 in rights. On 10 March 1812 Murray published Byron's second book, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, which sold out in five days, leading to Byron's observation "I awoke one morning and found myself famous".

On 17 May 1824 Murray participated in one of the most notorious acts in the annals of literature. Byron had given him the manuscript of his personal memoirs to publish later on. Together with five of Byron's friends and executors, he decided to destroy Byron's manuscripts because he thought the scandalous details would damage Byron's reputation. Opposed only by Thomas Moore, the two volumes of memoirs were dismembered and burnt in the fireplace at Murray's office.[3] Unfortunately we do not know what was contained in the memoirs.

John Murray III (1808–1892) continued the business and published Charles Eastlake's first English translation of Goethe's Theory of Colours (1840), David Livingstone's Missionary Travels (1857), and Charles Darwin's Origin of Species (1859). Murray III contracted with Herman Melville to publish Melville's first two books, Typee (1846) and Omoo (1847) in England; both books were presented as nonfiction travel narratives in Murray's Home and Colonial Library series, alongside such works as the 1845 second edition of Darwin's journals from his travels on the HMS Beagle.[4] John Murray III also started the Murray Handbooks in 1836, a series of travel guides from which modern-day guides are directly descended. The rights to these guides were sold around 1900 and subsequently acquired in 1915 by the Blue Guides.

His successor Sir John Murray IV (1851–1928) was publisher to Queen Victoria. Among other works, he published Murray's Magazine from 1887 until 1891. Competitor Smith, Elder & Co. was acquired in 1917.

His son Sir John Murray V (1884–1967), grandson John Murray VI (John Arnaud Robin Grey Murray; 1909–1993) and great-grandson John Murray VII (John Richmond Grey Murray; 1941–) continued the business until it was taken over.

In 2002, John Murray was acquired by Hodder Headline, which was itself acquired in 2004 by the French conglomerate Lagardère Group. Since then, it has been an imprint under Lagardère brand Hachette UK.[5]

John Murray archive

The archive of John Murray Publishers, from 1768 through to 1920, was offered for sale to the nation by John Murray VII for £31 million and the National Library of Scotland has acquired it, including the manuscript of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species. On 26 January 2005, it was announced that the National Library was to be given £17.7m by the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the £31.2m price offered by John Murray (on condition the library digitise the materials and make them openly available). The Scottish Executive agreed to make a contribution of £8.3m, with the National Library setting a £6.5m fundraising target for the remainder.[6][7][8][9][10]

John Murray timeline

Film adaptations of John Murray titles


  1. ^ John Treadwell Nichols (1812), "(Printers and booksellers)", Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century 3, London: Printed for the author, by Nichols, Son, and Bentley,  
  2. ^ Belanger, Jacqueline; Peter Garside; Anthony Mandal; Sharon Ragaz (4 Jan 2003). "British Fiction, 1800–1829: A Database Of Production And Reception, Phase Ii: Advertisements For Novels In 'The Star', 1815–1824". Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic Text.  
  3. ^ Eisler, Benita. Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame, page 3.
  4. ^ Hershel Parker, Herman Melville: A Biography; Volume 1, 1819–1851, (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 392, 482-84, 508-10.
  5. ^  
  6. ^ "Stars back literary archive plans".  
  7. ^ "John Murray Archive unwrapped". Scottish Executive website. Retrieved 25 April 2007. 
  8. ^ "About the John Murray Archive". National Library of Scotland. Archived from the original on June 11, 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2007. 
  9. ^ "John Murray Archive Catalogue". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 27 April 2007. 
  10. ^ "Pages from history".  
  11. ^ Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries; and of the Discovery of the Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa. 1858-1864 (PDF)
  12. ^ "An etymological dictionary of modern English". 
  13. ^ "Icelight — The Crime Writers' Association". Retrieved 2015-10-04. 

Further reading

  • Smiles, Samuel (1891). A Publisher and His Friends: Memoir and Correspondence of the Late John Murray. London: John Murray.  
  • Zachs, William (1998). The first John Murray: and the late eighteenth-century London book trade. British Academy postdoctoral fellowship monographs. Oxford: British Academy/Oxford University Press.  
  • Carpenter, Humphrey (2008). The Seven Lives of John Murray: The Story of a Publishing Dynasty. London: John Murray.  
  • Cutmore, Jonathan (2008). Contributors to the Quarterly Review: A History 1809–1825. London: Pickering and Chatto.  

External links

  • Official website
  • John Murray's channel on YouTube
  • National Library of Scotland - John Murray archive
  • Works by John Murray III (1808–1892) at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about John Murray at Internet Archive
  • Works by John Murray at Hathi Trust
  • Darwin Project, a project to publish all of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, including his correspondence with Murray.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.