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Walter Ruddiman (1719-1781) - Publisher

He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland,in 1719, the nephew of the grammarian Thomas Ruddiman. On 11 September 1754 he was admitted a Burgess of the City of Edinburgh and set up business as a printer in Morocco's Court, off the Lawnmarket. He tried his hand at periodical publishing in 1757 with his short-lived Edinburgh Magazine; undeterred by its failure, he returned to the market with the publication of The Weekly Magazine, or Edinburgh Amuse-ment on 7 July 1768. This weekly news digest and compilation of serious articles and poetry became the most popular journal of its kind in Scotland and it made Ruddiman's reputation. In it he published the poetry of Robert Fergusson, of which he also produced collections in 1773 and 1779, thus ensuring that his friend's work would not be lost to posterity after his death at the early age of 24. In 1777, to avoid the payment of stamp duty, which was levied on newspapers, he separated the news digest from his magazine and published it as Ruddiman's Weekly Mercury. Ruddiman was a hard-headed businessman and a forerunner of the entrepreneurial publishers of the early 19th century who were to make Edinburgh a publishing centre of note. He died on 16th June 1781 and lies buried in Greyfriars' Churchyard in Edinburgh.

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