Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol I (1901).djvu/31
Memoir of George Smith
successful and at once reached a second edition. In 1851, when Smith heard that Thackeray was engaged on a new work of importance—which proved to be 'Esmond'—he called at his house in Young Street, Kensington, and offered him what was then the handsome sum of 1,200l. for the right of issuing the first edition of 2,500 copies. Thenceforth he was on close terms of intimacy with Thackeray. He was often at his house, and showed as tender a consideration for the novelist's young daughters as for himself. 'Esmond' appeared in 1852 and was the only one of Thackeray's novels to be published in the regulation trio of half-a-guinea volumes. Just before its publication, when Thackeray was preparing to start on a lecturing tour in America, Smith, with kindly thought, commissioned Samuel Laurence to draw Thackeray's portrait, so that his daughters might have a competent presentment of him at home during his absence. Before Thackeray's return Smith published his 'Lectures on the English Humourists,' and, in order to make the volume of more presentable size, added elaborate notes by Thackeray's friend James Hannay. In December 1854 Smith published the best known of Thackeray's Christmas books, 'The Rose and the Ring.'
Meanwhile Smith's private and business life alike underwent important change. The pressure of constant application was, in 1853, telling on his health, and he resolved to share his responsibilities with a partner. Henry Samuel King, a bookseller of Brighton, whose bookselling establishment is still carried on there by Treacher & Co., came to Cornhill to aid in the general superintendence and to receive a quarter share of the profits. His previous experience naturally gave him a particular interest in the publishing department. On 3 July 1853 Charlotte Brontë wrote to Smith: 'I hope your partner Mr. King will soon acquire a working faculty and leave you some leisure and opportunity effectually to cultivate health.' At the same date Smith became engaged to Elizabeth, the daughter of John Blakeway, a wine merchant of London, and granddaughter of Edward Blakeway, esq., of Broseley Hall, Shropshire. The marriage took place on 11 Feb. 1854. For four years he and his wife lived at 112 Gloucester Terrace, where he had formerly resided with his mother. Subsequently they spent some time at Wimbledon, and at the end of 1859 they settled at 11 Gloucester Square.
Smith felt from the outset that the presence of a partner at Cornhill hampered his independence, but it relieved him of some labour and set him