Catalogue description A. & C. Black Publishers Ltd

This record is held by University of Reading: Special Collections

Details of ACB
Reference: ACB
Title: A. & C. Black Publishers Ltd

The collection is divided into seven sections: correspondence, administration, agreements, accounts, reviews, company history, and press cuttings. The correspondence series contains letter books and letters with authors and other companies. The administrative records include minutes, staff memoranda, legal papers, records from the different companies purchased, and book files. The agreements include those with authors and agencies and some non-book agreements. The financial accounts include records of royalties, stocks, shares, expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses. The reviews series include volumes of reviews and criticism released in newspapers and other published sources relating to books the company published. The company history series mainly relates to events under the original Adam Black in the 19th century and includes correspondence, agreements with Thomas Underwood, eulogy and testimonial relating to the life and death of Charles Black in 1854, legal documents, and other miscellaneous papers. The press cuttings and advertisements series contains scrap books created from newspaper clippings, catalogues and leaflets, all relating to the company.

Date: c.1840s-c.1980s
Held by: University of Reading: Special Collections, not available at The National Archives

A & C Black

  • Publishing
Administrative / biographical background:

A.& C. Black was founded by Adam Black who was a publisher and politician. He opened a bookshop in 1807 in Edinburgh. He was born on 20 Feb 1784 in Edinburgh and died 24 Jan 1874 also in Edinburgh. He took his nephew, Charles Black (1834-1854), into partnership with him in his publishing business, establishing A. and C. Black in 1834.

The firm acquired copyright to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. In 1851 they purchased the remainder of the copyright on Sir Walter Scott's works. Adam Black retired in 1870, his three younger sons, James Tait Black (1826-1911), Francis Black (1830-1892) and Adam William Black (1836-1898), who were already in the business with him took over the firm. Francis Black, Adam Black's third son was admitted into the partnership in 1855. Adam William Black, Adam Black's fourth son was admitted into partnership in 1858. A. & C. Black moved to Soho Square, London in 1889. A.B. McGlashen was made a partner in 1889, until 1891.

The firm was a partnership from 1807-1914, and then became a public limited company.

The firm bought the copyright of Sir Walter Scott's Waverley novels in 1851. A. & C. Black also published early P.G. Wodehouse , including Psmith journalist, 1915, The pothunters, 1915, Mike : a public school story, 1916, Psmith in the City : a sequel to "Mike", 1919, all of which are available in the library of the Special Collections.

Adam Rimmer Black (1865-1936), son of James Tait Black was bought into partnership in 1891. The James Tait Black biography prize was established in 1919 and is still presented by The University of Edinburgh. The firm acquired Who's Who in 1896. W.W. Callender was made a director in 1899, (retiring 1928) and Adam Rimmer Black were in charge of the company by 1899. In 1906, The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and Black's Medical Dictionary were acquired. The firm was Joined by George Wilson in 1920, and H.A. Low in 1928 as directors.

S. W. Partridge and Co. Limited was founded in 1850, and in 1930 the firm was purchased by A. & C. Black. Gay & Hancock was also purchased around this time.

Archibald Black (1932-?), the son of Adam Rimmer Black, joined the firm in 1929, becoming a director in 1932, with H.A. Low, and J.D. Newth who joined the firm in 1925, and became a director in 1935.

EP Publishing was purchased by A. & C. Black Publishers Ltd from Seymour Press in 1983.

A. & C. Black Publishers Ltd purchased Ernest Benn Ltd in 1984. Ernest Benn Ltd publications included the Moomin books by Tove Jansson and E. Nesbit books. T. Fisher Unwin was acquired by Ernest Benn Ltd in 1926. The publishing firm of T. Fisher Unwin was the personal business of Thomas Fisher Unwin (1848-1935). Williams & Norgate was founded by Sydney Williams and Frederick Norgate, in business from the 1830s-1950s, and was acquired by Ernest Benn. Benn purchased The Newspaper Press Directory, Mitchell's in 1949.

Alphabooks was purchased by A. & C. Black Publishers Ltd in 1987.

A. & C. Black Publishers Ltd was acquired by Bloomsbury Publishing in July 2000.

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