Ideas That Shaped the World - An Introduction to the John Murray Archive

Edited by David McClay

This richly illustrated introduction to the John Murray Archive (1768 - 1920), now owned for the nation by the National Library of Scotland, offers a fascinating glimpse into the political, social and intellectual life of the period via correspondence between authors and publisher spanning seven generations and four centuries. Byron was of the opinion that his book was too small a format to sell (he was wrong), Jane Austen tartly requested a better turn of speed from the printer, while Darwin patiently answered the critics of his theories. Meanwhile Murrays Travel Guides opened up the world to restlessly curious 19th century travellers - and prompted the flagitious pirate Fritz Baedeker to publish inferior imitations under his own name. Written by the curatorial and cataloguing team at the National Library of Scotland, the book, which is published in support of the permanent John Murray Archive Exhibition, provides insights into not only what a publishers archive tells us about their authors and the world they inhabited, but also the journey of an idea from its genesis to its publication. The John Murray Archive is a uniquely rich collection, bringing together travellers who were poets, politicians, scientists, missionaries, archaeologists and adventurers, who all share the gift of being able to write. This is a goldmine for anyone who loves the magic of travel. Michael Palin, broadcaster and modern-day traveller