Smith, George, Publisher
SMITH, GEORGE, PUBLISHER (1789-1846), British publisher, founder of the firm of Smith, Elder & Co., was born in Scotland in 1789. From Elgin, where he was apprenticed to a bookseller, he migrated to London, where he found employment first with Rivingtons, and afterwards with John Murray. In 1816 Smith and another Scot, Alexander Elder, began business at 158 Fenchurch Street as booksellers and stationers; and in 1819 they became publishers also. It was here that GEORGE SMITH (2) (1824-1901), the most famous member of the firm, was born on the 19th of March 1824; and in the same year the business was removed to 65 Cornhill. At the age of fourteen George Smith (2) came into the business, and in 1843 he took over the control of the publishing department. On his father's death in 1846 the responsibility of the business devolved principally upon him, and under his management it increased thirteen times in twenty years. A large portion of the business was connected with foreign agencies and banking, especially with India, but this was relinquished in 1868 to his partner Henry S. King, who now separated from the firm, retaining the old premises at Cornhill, while Smith removed the publishing business, now under his sole control, to 1 5 Waterloo Place. For over thirty years Smith was the friend and publisher of Ruskin, and it was with him that Jane Eyre found a publisher. In 1855 was started the Overland Mail, a weekly periodical for Indian readers, and the Homeward Mail, containing Indian news for English readers. By Smith, Elder & Co. were issued works by Darwin, Ruskin, Thackeray, Robert and Mrs Browning, Wilkie Collins, Matthew Arnold, Miss Martineau, James Payn and Mrs Humphry Ward. In 1866 was published Trollope's Last Chronicles of Barset, for which 3000 was paid. In January 1860 the first of George Smith's three great undertakings was begun, the Cornhill Magazine being issued in that month under the editorship of Thackeray. The second venture was the founding in 1865 of the Pall Mall Gazette (see NEWSPAPERS). The third and most important was the publication of the Dictionary of National Biography, the first volume of which was issued in 1882; it was completed in 1901, in 66 volumes; and this monumental work was the crowning effort of a successful career. Smith was a rich man, not only from his publishing business, but on account of his large ownership in the mineral water Apollinaris and other ventures. His second son, Alexander Murray Smith, joined the firm in 1890, and with him was associated in 1894 his brother-in-law Reginald J. Smith, who in 1899 became acting partner. George Smith himself died at Byfleet, near Weybridge, on the 6th of April 1901.
See the memoir (1901) of George Smith (2) prefixed to vol. j. of the supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography; reminiscences contributed to the Cornhill Magazine (Nov. igoo-Feb. 1901) by George Smith; an article by Sir Leslie Stephen in the same magazine (May 1901); and the special number of the Cornhill in January 1910, published on its soth anniversary.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)