What is the John Murray Archive?

What the archive is, is a collection of correspondence, business papers and manuscripts...and a few more personal items...from 150 odd years at the centre of intellectual and cultural life in Britain.  It's dizzying the stuff they have in there.

It had been kept for years by the Murray family in their extraordinary house at 50 Albemarle Street off Piccadilly, and folk have been going there for years to root among the boxes.It is, simply, the greatest publishing archive in the world. The National Library of Scotland is now its home, and its treasures are available to specialists and non-specialists (like me) alike.

To illustrate the range of material here another way, there's a recent book by Humphrey Carpenter called “The Seven Ages of John Murray”…with lots of other names on the dust cover…names that the publisher (John Murray) hopes that we will recognize. These Are They:
Lord Byron
Jane Austen
Charles Darwin
David Livingstone
John Betjeman
Kenneth Clark
Walter Scott
Washington Irving
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Queen Victoria

These were all “Murray authors”

So were

Charles Lyell
Herman Melville
Conan Doyle
Isabella Bird Bishop
Austen Layard
Heinrich Schliemann
Caroline Lamb
William Franklin
Caroline Norton
Mary Somerville
Freya Stark
Samuel Smiles

Now, if any of those names mean anything to you, that means there are letters and ledgers upstairs and downstairs from where I’m sitting now that give immediate insights on the making of their legendary books from a legendary publishing house.