John Murray (publisher)

John Murray is a British publisher, known for the authors it has published in its history, including Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 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. Business publisher Nicholas Brealey became an imprint of John Murray in 2015.

John Murray
John Murray
Parent companyHachette UK (brand under Lagardère Group)
FounderJohn Murray
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationLondon
Publication typesBooks


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

The business was founded in London in 1768 by John Murray (1737–1793),[1] an Edinburgh-born Royal Marines officer, who built up a list of authors including Isaac D'Israeli and published the English Review.[2]

John Murray the elder was one of the founding sponsors of the London evening newspaper The Star in 1788.[3]

He was succeeded by his son, also called John Murray, who made the publishing house one of the most important and influential in Britain. He was a friend of many leading writers of the day and launched the Quarterly Review in 1809. He was the publisher of Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, Washington Irving, George Crabbe and many others. His home and office at 50 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. With only Thomas Moore objecting, the two volumes of memoirs were dismembered and burnt in the fireplace at Murray's office.[4] It remains unknown what they contained.

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 HMS Beagle.[5] 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. From 1904 he published the Wisdom of the East book series.[6] 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.[7]

In 2015, business publisher Nicholas Brealey became an imprint of John Murray.[8]

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 available. The Scottish Government agreed to contribute £8.3m, with the Library setting a £6.5m fundraising target for the remainder.[9][10][11][12][13]

John Murray timeline

Film adaptations of John Murray titles


  1. ^ Zachs, William (1998). The First John Murray and the Late Eighteenth-Century Book Trade. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 7. ISBN 0197261914.
  2. ^ John Treadwell Nichols (1812), "(Printers and booksellers)", Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, 3, London: Printed for the author, by Nichols, Son, and Bentley, OCLC 1138961
  3. ^ Belanger, Jacqueline; Peter Garside; Anthony Mandal; Sharon Ragaz (4 January 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. ISSN 1471-5988. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  4. ^ Eisler, Benita. Byron: Child of Passion, Fool of Fame, page 3.
  5. ^ Hershel Parker, Herman Melville: A Biography; Volume 1, 1819–1851, (Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 392, 482-84, 508-10.
  6. ^ Wisdom of the East Series, Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  7. ^ Hachette UK (2008). "Corporate History Highlights". Hachette UK. Hachette UK. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  8. ^ Hachette UK buys Nicholas Brealey
  9. ^ "Stars back literary archive plans". BBC News. 24 April 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2007.
  10. ^ "John Murray Archive unwrapped". Scottish Executive website. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
  11. ^ "About the John Murray Archive". National Library of Scotland. Archived from the original on 11 June 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
  12. ^ "John Murray Archive Catalogue". National Library of Scotland. Archived from the original on 11 June 2007. Retrieved 27 April 2007.
  13. ^ "Pages from history". Retrieved 27 April 2007.
  14. ^ "Maria Rundell". (Persephone Books information page)
  15. ^ Cunningham, Joseph Davy (1849). A History of the Sikhs: From the Origin of the Nation to the Battles of the Sutlej. John Murray.
  16. ^ Narrative of an Expedition to the Zambesi and its Tributaries; and of the Discovery of the Lakes Shirwa and Nyassa. 1858-1864 (PDF)
  17. ^ "An etymological dictionary of modern English".
  18. ^ "Icelight — The Crime Writers' Association". Retrieved 4 October 2015.

Further reading

External links

A Dictionary of Hymnology

A Dictionary of Hymnology: Origin and History of Christian Hymns and Hymnwriters of All Ages and Nations, Together with Biographical and Critical Notices of Their Authors and Translators by John D. Julian, first published in 1892, is a standard historical reference for early Christian hymns, with more than 40,000 entries.The work contains biographical and historical notes about the history of hymns and hymn writers. It is not a collection of hymn texts or hymn tunes, though brief quotations and references are included. Originally published in 1892 in London by John Murray and in New York City by Charles Scribner's Sons, it was reprinted in 1907-1908 by John Murray, in 1957 by Dover Publications (in two volumes) and in 1985 by Kregel Publications. It was not revised after 1902, but remains an important source for early Christian hymns, such as Latin ones.The new Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology, edited by J.R. Watson and Emma Hornby, was published on-line by Canterbury Press in October 2013.

A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces is a book by James Frey, originally sold as a memoir and later marketed as a semi-fictional novel following accusations of literary forgery. It tells the story of a 23-year-old alcoholic and drug abuser and how he copes with rehabilitation in a twelve steps-oriented treatment center. While initially promoted as a memoir, it was later discovered that many of the events described in the book never happened.

A Time of Gifts

A Time of Gifts (1977) is a travel book by British author Patrick Leigh Fermor. Published by John Murray when the author was 62, it is a memoir of the first part of Fermor's journey on foot across Europe from the Hook of Holland to Constantinople in 1933/34. The book has been hailed as a classic of travel writing; William Dalrymple called it a "sublime masterpiece".A Time of Gifts, whose introduction is a letter to his wartime colleague Xan Fielding, recounts Leigh Fermor's journey as far as the Middle Danube. A second volume, Between the Woods and the Water (1986), begins with the author crossing the Mária Valéria bridge from Czechoslovakia into Hungary and ends when he reaches the Iron Gate, where the Danube formed the boundary between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Romania. A planned third volume of Leigh Fermor's journey to its completion in Constantinople was never completed. In 2011 Leigh Fermor's publisher John Murray announced that it would publish the final volume, drawing from his diary at the time and an early draft that he wrote in the 1960s; The Broken Road, edited by Artemis Cooper, was published in September 2013.

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is a lengthy narrative poem in four parts written by Lord Byron. It was published between 1812 and 1818 and is dedicated to "Ianthe". The poem describes the travels and reflections of a world-weary young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks for distraction in foreign lands. In a wider sense, it is an expression of the melancholy and disillusionment felt by a generation weary of the wars of the post-Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. The title comes from the term childe, a medieval title for a young man who was a candidate for knighthood.

Heat and Dust

Heat and Dust (1975) is a novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala which won the Booker Prize in 1975.

His Last Bow

His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of previously published Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, including the titular short story, "His Last Bow. The War Service of Sherlock Holmes" (1917). The collection's first US edition adjusts the anthology's subtitle to Some Later Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes. All editions contain a brief preface, by "John H. Watson, M.D.", that assures readers that as of the date of publication (1917), Holmes is long retired from his profession of detective but is still alive and well, albeit suffering from a touch of rheumatism.

House of the Tiger King

House of the Tiger King is a travel journal in which Anglo-Afghan author Tahir Shah recounts his search for the legendary Inca city Paititi. The book was first published by John Murray in 2004. Its title is a translation of a Machiguenga name for Paititi.

House of the Tiger King was read by Sam Dastor on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week in July 2004.

In Search of King Solomon's Mines

In Search of King Solomon's Mines is a travel book by Anglo-Afghan author, Tahir Shah.

Mazeppa (poem)

Mazeppa is a narrative poem written by the English Romantic poet Lord Byron in 1819. It is based on a popular legend about the early life of Ivan Mazepa (1639–1709), who later became Hetman (military leader) of Ukraine. Byron's poem was immediately translated into French, where it inspired a series of works in various art forms. The cultural legacy of Mazeppa was revitalised with the independence of Ukraine in 1991.

According to the poem, the young Mazeppa has a love affair with a Polish Countess, Theresa, while serving as a page at the Court of King John II Casimir Vasa. Countess Theresa was married to a much older Count. On discovering the affair, the Count punishes Mazeppa by tying him naked to a wild horse and setting the horse loose. The bulk of the poem describes the traumatic journey of the hero strapped to the horse. The poem has been praised for its "vigor of style and its sharp realization of the feelings of suffering and endurance".Published within the same covers as Mazeppa was a short "Fragment of a Novel", one of the earliest vampire stories in English, and the poem "Ode".

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin is an autobiography by the English naturalist Charles Darwin.

Darwin wrote the text, which he entitled Recollections of the Development of my Mind and Character, for his family. He states that he started writing it on about May 28, 1876 and had finished it by August 3.

The text was published in 1887 (five years after Darwin's death) by John Murray as part of The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. The text printed in Life and Letters was edited by Darwin's son Francis Darwin, who removed several passages about Darwin's critical views of God and Christianity.The omitted passages were later restored by Darwin's granddaughter Nora Barlow in a 1958 edition to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. This edition was published in London by Collins under the title of The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882. With the original omissions restored. Edited and with appendix and notes by his granddaughter Nora Barlow.

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes

The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes is the final set of twelve (out of a total of fifty-six) Sherlock Holmes short stories by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Strand Magazine between October 1921 and April 1927.

The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes

The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes is a short story collection of Sherlock Holmes pastiches, first published in 1954. It was written by Adrian Conan Doyle, who was the son of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the creator of Sherlock Holmes), and by John Dickson Carr, who was the authorised biographer of the elder Conan Doyle. As an early and, due to the authors, rather authoritative example of Sherlockian pastiche, The Exploits of Sherlock Holmes is of much interest among Sherlockians.

Each story in this collection is postscripted with a quote from one of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, making reference to an undocumented Holmes case that inspired it.

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin

The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin is a book published in 1887 edited by Francis Darwin about his father Charles Darwin. It contains a selection of 87 letters from the correspondence of Charles Darwin, an autobiographical chapter written by Charles Darwin for his family, and an essay by Thomas Huxley "On the reception of the 'Origin of Species'".

It was published by Darwin's publisher John Murray.

The autobiographical chapter was edited by Francis to remove references to his father's views on religion. These were later reinstated and published as The Autobiography of Charles Darwin in 1958 by Charles's granddaughter (and Francis's niece) Nora Barlow.

The book was the first real biography of Charles Darwin, excepting obituaries, and thus the foundation of the Darwin Industry.

Further volumes of letters followed - More Letters of Charles Darwin in 1903. Charles's wife Emma Darwin's correspondence was published by Charles and Emma's daughter (Frank's sister) Henrietta Litchfield in 1905/1915 as Emma Darwin: A Century of Family Letters.

The book received extensive reviews in The Times and The Manchester GuardianThe book was later described by The Times as "one of the best biographies ever written" and "In the selection and arrangement of the material he [Francis Darwin] was chiefly guided by a wish to portray his father's personal character, and he succeeded in a remarkable degree in giving a true picture of the man and the student, the methods of Darwin's work and the gradual development of his opinions."

The Prisoner of Chillon

The Prisoner of Chillon is a 392-line narrative poem by Lord Byron. Written in 1816, it chronicles the imprisonment of a Genevois monk, François Bonivard, from 1532 to 1536.

The Romany Rye

The Romany Rye is a novel by George Borrow, written in 1857 as a sequel to Lavengro (1851).

The Story of San Michele

The Story of San Michele is a book of memoirs by Swedish physician Axel Munthe (October 31, 1857 – February 11, 1949) first published in 1929 by British publisher John Murray. Written in English, it was a best-seller in numerous languages and has been republished constantly in the nine decades since its original release.

Sports and


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.