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Incoming correspondence received by John Murray, publishers., 18th century-20th century

Identifier: MSS.40001-41320

Scope and Contents

The incoming correspondence consists of letters of individuals and companies sent to John Murray, publishers, mostly relating to the business, but also including private letters. The correspondence largely covers the period from the 1760s to the 1920s. Where enclosures exist, they have been kept with their original letters.

This series contains most of the extant letters received by the publishing house up to the 1920s, but others are to be found throughout the archive. One significant sequence that is separate contains the correspondence and related papers, including some manuscripts, of many prominent authors (MSS.42000-42631).

Although there are occasional copies of outgoing correspondence within these folders, the majority are recorded in the copy letter books (MSS.41896-41999).


  • Creation: 18th century-20th century


Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


1320 Folders

Language of Materials

From the Fonds: English


The incoming correspondence now forms one sequence arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent, whether individual or company.

Custodial History

When under the management of John Murray, publishers, the incoming correspondence was arranged into three alphabetical sequences known as the ‘Smiles’, ‘Paston’ and ‘Ginnie’ files. That arrangement was due to the influence of three people: Samuel Smiles; Emily Morse Symonds (pseudonym, George Paston); and Virginia (Ginnie) Murray. The separation into these files was a reflection of the interests of these individuals. Smiles and Symonds each wrote and published a history of the publishing house, each work covering a different period 'A Publisher and his friends … 1768-1843' (1859) and 'At John Murray's, 1843-1892' (1932) respectively – and their named files reflect their use of the papers in the production of each work. Virginia Murray later organised and managed the entire archive until its sale. Broadly speaking, therefore, ‘Smiles’ contained the earliest correspondence, ‘Symonds’ correspondence of the mid to late 19th century, and ‘Ginnie’ the correspondence to approximately the 1920s.


Please note that due to a conservation project some incoming correspondence files may be unavailable during 2020.

You can check availability of a material from this collection by emailing the Archives and Manuscript Collections team at

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700