16th September 1834

Death of publisher William Blackwood

William Blackwood’s name lives on in the shape of Blackwoods, the academic booksellers. He was born in Edinburgh in 1776 and opened a bookshop in the city in his late 20s. Within ten years he was not only selling books, but publishing them, too, and, in 1817, he established the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine.

Blackwood’s publishing efforts had brought many talents to public attention, and the Perthshire Courier of 25 September 1834 quoted the Edinburgh Evening Post, which noted that “under his standard, Wilson, Lockhard and Galt grew up to be giants; in poetry we owe to him, in a great measure, Hogg, Moir, Caroline Bowled, Gillespie and Aird; and in general literature, Maginn, Miss Ferrier, Hamilton, Gleig, and twenty others whom it would not be difficult to specify. He had not only the faculty of finding out particular talent but the art of directing it to the most proper objects.”

William Blackwood dies

His death from cancer, at the age of 58, was widely reported in the media of the day. The London Evening Standard, on 30 September 1834, quoted extensively from Blackwood’s Magazine (to which the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine had changed its name).

It described the illness that had cost him his life as being “from the first pronounced incurable by his physicians. Four months of suffering, in part intense, exhausted by slow degrees all his physical energies, but left his temper calm and unruffled, and his intellect entire and vigorous even to the last. He had thus what no good man will consider as a slight privilege – that of contemplating the approach of death with the clearness and full strength of mind and faculties, and of instructing those around him by solemn precept and memorable example, by what means alone, humanity, conscious of its own frailty, can sustain that prospect with humble serenity.”

Respected man

He had clearly been greatly respected, and the Warder and Dublin Weekly Mail of 24 September praised him as “constitutional, steady, and firmly consistent in his principles – he was faithful in his friendships as in his politics; his home was a scene of domestic virtues; and as a trader he was eminently spirited, liberal and just.”

The original William Blackwood was succeeded by a string of other William Blackwoods at the head of the firm he established.



Other events that occured in September

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