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Adam Black (1784-1874)- Publisher

The founder of the publishing house of A. and C. Black. He was born on 20th February 1784 in Edinburgh,
the son of a master-builder. He was educated at the High School Of Edinburgh and at the age of 15 was apprenticed to John Fairburn, an Edinburgh bookseller. In 1804 he went to London, where he worked with Thomas Sheraton on his The Cabinet-maker and Artist's Encyclopaedia (1791-93), and thereafter with the publishers Lackington Alien and Co. He returned to Edinburgh in 1807 and set himself up as a bookseller at 57 South Bridge, where he remained until 1818, when he moved to larger premises at 27 North Bridge; in 1846 the firm moved to its last Edinburgh address, 6 North Bridge, before moving to London in 1890. Black started publishing political pamphlets, educational books and a series of travel books in 1817. He bought the rights to publish the Encyclopaedia Brotannica in 1826 and the following year he took over the publication of the Edinburgh Review following the financial ruin of Archibald Constable. His nephew Charles (1804-54) joined the firm in 1834, and in 1854 they bought the rights to the novels of Sir Walter Scott. They also published Memorials of his Time (1856) by Henry Thomas Cockburn and his Life of Lord Jeffrey (1852). A Whig in politics, Black held a number of important public posts in Edinburgh. He was Commissioner of Police in 1822 and Lord Provost between 1843 and 1848. He died on 24 January 1874, a few weeks before his 90th birthday. His successor was his son, James Tait Black (1826-1911), whose wife endowed the James Tait Black Prize for fiction and biography, awarded annually by the Regius Professor of English at the University of Edinburgh.

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