Murray, John

PUBLISHER (SCOTLAND)
BORN 27 Nov 1778, London: 32 Fleet Street - DIED 27 Jun 1843, London
GRAVE LOCATION London: Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green (075/IR (4236))

Son of John MacMurray (1737-1793) of Edinburgh, who founded the John Murray publishing house in Fleet Street, London. His mother Hester Weemss was his father's second wife and the younger sister of his first wife Nancy (d.1776). There were no children from the first marriage, but he had an older half-brother, Archie (b.1770) from an unknown mother. When he was almost fifteen his father died. He was meant to enter the navy, but after he lost the sight of his right eye at the Royal Navy Academy in Gosport. He was apprenticed to Samuel Highley, who had been his father's shopman. After his mother remarried to captain Henry Paget he entered into a partnership with Highley, but it was dissolved in 1803 on Murrayá request.

From then on he ran his own business and he published Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Jane Austen and Robert Southey and his courage as a published caused Byron to call him 'the Anak of publishers', referring to Anak in "The Book of Numbers". In 1807 he married Anne Elliot, the daughter of the publisher Charles Elliot of Edinburgh. In 1808 their son, the third John, was born.

In 1808 he started the "Quarterly Review", edited by William Gifford. In 1812 he bought William Miller's publishing house and he moved to 50 Albermarle Street. There he was visited by most of the great authors of his time and at his home the first meeting between Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott took place.

When Byron was exiled in Italy Murray continued to publish his work and their letters show a close friendship. After Byron's fifth canto of "Don Juan" Murray (who was a tory) stopped publishing his work for political reasons and their friendship ended in 1822. Still it was at his place that Byron's memoirs were burnt after the dead of the poet in 1824.

Related persons
• published work by Austen, Jane
• was a friend of Byron, George Noel Gordon
• published work by Byron, George Noel Gordon

Events
0/12/1815Jane Austen's "Emma" is published. John Murray was the publisher. [Austen, Jane]
0/12/1817Jane Austen's "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion" are published as a set. The publisher was John Murray. Jane had died earlier that year and for the first time she was identified as the author. Sales started strong, but weakened soon afterwards. In 1820 Murray destroyed the unsold copies. [Austen, Jane]
17/5/1824Lord Byron's memoirs are burnt. It was to protect his reputation (and that of his publisher John Murray) after his death and took place in the drawing room of John Murray in Albermarle Street, London. Present were Murray, John Cam Hobhouse, Thomas Moore. Several people had read them before they were burnt and Mary Shelley stated there she had read them in Venice and that there was nothing much in it. [Broughton, John Cam Hobhouse, Lord][Byron, George Noel Gordon ]

Images

The grave of John Murray at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (26 Jun 2009)

 

The grave of John Murray at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (08 Feb 2012)

 

Sources
• Nicholson, Andrew (ed.), The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2007
Paths of Glory, The Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery, London, 1997
John Murray (1778–1843) - Wikipedia
John Murray (1778-1843)
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Musset, Alfred de

Published: 6 Aug 2010
Last update: 22 Dec 2018