Correspondence of William Blackwood and Sons, publishers. Edit


Component Unique Identifier
Level of Description


  • 1805-1900, undated. (Creation)


  • 734 Volumes (Whole)



  • Conditions Governing Access

    Normal access conditions apply.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.

  • Scope and Contents

    The correspondence consists mainly of the incoming letters addressed to the firm of Blackwood. It contains also letters passing within the firm between members of the family, between the family and their employees, and between the employees themselves.

    The correspondents include authors of the standing of James Hogg, John Galt, John Gibson Lockhart, George Eliot, Lord Lytton, Anthony Trollope, and Joseph Conrad; but the majority were not writers of comparable distinction, nor were all of Blackwood's correspondents professional authors. Several were notable men of affairs for whom authorship was a secondary occupation; many others were men of various professions – clergymen, soldiers, lawyers, and colonial administrators, for example – who wrote, especially with a view to publication in “Blackwood's Magazine”, on matters they felt competent to deal with. As a result, Blackwood's incoming letters cover a great many topics and are a source of information almost as much for the historian of society as for the historian of literature.

    As a rule only the writers of letters have been indexed, the recipient being regarded as the firm itself, even when letters are addressed to individual members of the family, to the Editor of “Blackwood's Magazine”, or to employees such as J M Langford, G Simpson, T Henderson, and A Allardyce. Letters not directly concemed with Blackwood, which were presumably enclosed with other letters to the firm, have been indexed under both writer and recipient wherever possible.

  • Other Finding Aids

    A contents list is at the beginning of each volume.

  • Existence and Location of Originals

    Included in MSS.4159, 4244, 4373 and 4389 are photostats of letters of George Elliot to John Blackwood. The originals of the letters, now in Yale University, had become separated from Blackwood Papers before the papers came to the National Library of Scotland. The copies were presented in 1953 by Professor Gordon S Haight, of Yale University, the editor of ‘The George Eliot Letters’ (New Haven, 1954-1955).

  • Bibliography

    “Blackwood's Magazine”.

  • Arrangement

    With the exception of those in MSS.4731-4734, which form special categories, the letters have been arranged in volumes according to the following system: chronologically by year; within each year alphabetically under the name of the writer, or, in some cases, the recipient; under each name, chronologically, with undated letters at the end. Undated letters which it has not been possible to assign to a year have been arranged alphabetically at the end of the series (MSS. 4709-4730). Apart from these final volumes, therefore, each volume of letters has both a chronological and an alphabetical range.