From the burning of Byron's memoirs, Jane Austen's clipped businesslike manner, and the lucrative controversy caused by the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species , through to the discovery of the new young poet John Betjeman, the name John Murray has for more than two hundred years been synonymous with challenging, intelligent and progressive publishing.
From its birth in 1768, when the first John Murray of Edinburgh came down to London, each of its seven leaders has made his own contribution to the dissemination of literature and the understanding of the world. One became Byron's publisher and confidante; another began the revolutionary series of Murray handbooks which transformed world travel in the early years of the railways; a third broke controversial new ground with the publication of Queen Victoria's letters. So the tradition progressed to the end of the twentieth century, and a list of literary giants including Patrick Leigh Fermor, Osbert Lancaster, Fransoise Sagan and Poet Laureate, John Betjeman. Written in Carpenter's rollicking and iconoclastic style, it is an affectionate and vibrant account of the longest-surviving publishing house in the world.