Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Longman, Thomas
LONGMAN, THOMAS (1699–1756), founder of the publishing house of Longman, was born in 1699 at Bristol, where his great-grandfather and grandfather had thriven in the soap trade. At the age of nine he lost his father, Ezekiel, who is described as 'gentleman,' and from whom and from his own mother he appears to have inherited a considerable amount of property. When he was seventeen his guardians apprenticed him for seven years to John Osborn, a prosperous bookseller in Lombard Street, London, afterwards master of the Stationers' Company, whose daughter he married. In 1724, at the close of his apprenticeship, he bought for 2,282l. the business of John Taylor, the first publisher of ' Robinson Crusoe', a bookseller in Paternoster Row, at the sign of the Ship and Black Swan, on the site of which, and of other houses then adjoining it, are the premises now occupied by the firm of Longmans. In a few months John Osborn entered into partnership with his former apprentice, and they traded as 'J. Osborn & T. Longman' at the sign of the Ship. They were among the original shareholders, to a small extent, of the subsequently very successful and profitable ' Cyclopaedia of the Arts and Sciences' of Ephraim Chambers [q. v.] With the death of his father-in-law, about 1734, Thomas Longman became sole owner of the business, which he steadily increased by his purchase of shares in sound literary properties. In 1740 he published the third volume of David Hume's first work, the ' Treatise of Human Nature,' having been introduced to Hume by Francis Hutcheson (Burton, Life of Hume, i. 117-20). In 1744 he was the owner of nearly a sixth of the shares of Chambers's ' Cyclopaedia,' the largest number held by any of its proprietors. He was one of the six booksellers who entered into an agreement with Dr. Johnson for the production of the English dictionary, the 'Plan' of which was issued in 1747. Boswell's statement that 'the two Messieurs Longman 'were parties to this agreement is probably erroneous. He died, apparently childless,on 18 June 1755. (For illustrations of his kindliness of disposition see Chambers, Ephraim.)
Longman, Thomas (1730-1797), born in 1730, nephew of the preceding, was taken, at twenty-three, into partnership by his uncle, at whose death he succeeded to the business. He greatly extended it in the provinces, and became a very large exporter of books to the American colonies. He promoted the issue of a much enlarged and lucrative edition of Chamber's 'Cyclopaedia,' and died in 1797.
Longman, Thomas Norton (1771-1843), born in 1771, son of the preceding, became virtual head of the business by his father's gradual withdrawal from it, which began about 1792, and he succeeded to it on his father's death. Before this he had in 1794 taken into partnership Owen Rees [q. v.] Before the close of the century the firm of Longman & Rees had become, both as publishers and booksellers, one of the greatest in London ; among the earliest of the valuable Copyrights which they acquired being that of Limley Murray's ' English Grammar.' With large capital at their command, they bought up businesses and copyrights in town and country. By purchasing about 1800 the business of Joseph Cottle [q. v.] of Bristol they became the owners of the ' Lyrical Ballads' of Wordsworth and Coleridge. Longman presented Cottle with the copyright of the ' Ballads,' and Cottle in his turn made a present of it to Wordsworth. Although Longman did not then consider the copyright of the 'Ballads' to be valuable, Cottle speaks of the gift as 'marked by Longman's 'accustomed liberality.' Afterwards the firm (Cottle, Early Recollections, 1837, ii. 26-7) long published for Wordsworth and Southey, who when in town were frequent guests at their literary dinner parties and weekly receptions. Writing to Coleridge in 1814 Southey says of T. N. Longman. ' that man has a kind heart of his own.' Sir Walter Scott has commemorated the liberality of the firm in presenting him with 100l. in recognition of the 'uncommon success' of 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel,' the copyright of which they had bought from him for 500l. The firm agreed to give Thomas Moore [q. v.] three thousand guineas for 'Lalla Rookh' before the poem was written. They might have become Byron's publishers had they not refused his 'English Bards and Scotch Reviewers' on account of the attacks in it on ' Mr. Southey and olhers of their literary friends.' Byron so resented the refusal that when making R. C. Dallas [q. v.] a present of 'Childe Harold.' he stipulated that it should not be offered to the Longmans. Among the more important enterprises of the firm was the conversion of Ephraim Chambers's into the much larger and more comprehensive Rees's 'Cyclopaedia' [see Rees, Abraham], in forty-five vols., and their publication of Bandinel's edition of Dugdale's 'Monasticon,' of Watt's 'Bibliotheca Britannica,' and of Lardner's ' Cabinet Cyclopaedia.' In 1826, after the collapse of Archibald Constable [q. v.], they became the sole proprietors of the 'Edinburgh Review,' of which they had previously owned one half. By this time, through successive introductions of new partners, generally employes of the house, the designation of the firm had become Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green. Thomas Norton Longman died at Hampstead, 29 Aug. 1842, much respected as a publisher and a man. Some of his friends erected a monument to him, with a bust in Hampstead Church. His personalty was sworn at 200.000l.
Longman, William (1813-1877), third son of the preceding, was born 9 Feb. 1813. He received his early education at a school at Totteridge, near Bamet, and in his sixteenth year entered the service of the firm of which his father was the head, passing through all the grades of the business. At the same time he continued his own education, acquiring a fair knowledge of foreign languages and of general literature, and cultivating a strong taste for natural science, especially for entomology. In 1839 he became a partner, and attached himself to the literary and publishing departments of the business. He compiled the useful volume which appeared anonymously as 'A Catalogue of Works in all Departments of Eng- lish Literature, classified, with a General Alphabetical Index,' of which a second edition was issued in 1848. With a vigorous frame, he was fond of field-sports and out-of-door exercise. He explored the Alps for several years successively, and was one of the earliest members of the Alpine Club, established in 1857. After being its vice-president, he was its president from 1871 to 1874, and actively promoted the publication of the records of their Alpine excursions, written by its members, and issued as 'Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers' in 1659-62. In 1856 was printed for private circulation his 'Journal of Six Weeks Adventures in Switzerland, Piedmont, and on the Italian Lakes.' In April 1861 he read before the Alpine Club and afterwards printed, a paper of 'Suggestions for the Exploration of Iceland.' His love of the country led him to live as much as possible out of town. After residing for some years at Chorleywood, near Rickmansworth, he removed to Ashlyns, Great Berkhampstead, where be took a leading part in resisting an attempt made by a neighbouring landowner to enclose Berkhampstead Common. A Mutual Improvement Society having been formed at Chorleywood in 1856, he delivered to it in the spring of 1867 a lecture on Switierland, which he repeated before a London audience, and then printed for private circulation. In January 1869 he delivered, for the benefit of his agricultural neighbours at Chorleywood, the first of a series of lectures—the fifth and last of which was given at Christmas 1862—on the 'History of England to the Close of the Reign of Edward II.' They were published as vol. i. in 1869. He had intended to go on with them, and had begun to study the reign of Edward III, when he migrated from Chorleywood to Ashlyns. The interest which he felt in that reign led him to continue his researches, and in 1869 appeared his elaborate and carefully written 'History of the Life and Times of Edward III.' Partly from its close vicinity to Paternoster Row, he threw himself heartily into the movement for the completion and decoration of St. Paul's Cathedral, and acted as chairman of the finance committee appointed to administer the fund raised for that object. His interest in St. Paul's further led him to compose the valuable monograph, published in 1873, 'A History of the Three Cathedrals dedicated to St. Paul in London, with reference chiefly to their Structure, Architecture, and the sources whence the necessary funds were derived.' His latest contributions to literature were an agreeable account of 'Impressions of Madeira,' which appeared in 'Fraser's Magazine' for August 1875, and a paper, left a fragment, on 'Modern Mountaineering, and a History of the Alpine Club,' printed in the 'Alpine Journal' for February 1877. He died 13 Aug. 1877, and was succeeded by his sons C. J. and H. H. Longman. He was noted for his courtesy to men of letters and to his brethren of 'the trade.'
Longman, Thomas (1804-1879), eldest son of Thomas Norton Longman, was born in 1804. He was educated at Glasgow University, and at an early age began his career in the publishing house of Longman. In 1832 he became a partner in it, and in 1842 he succeeded his father as its head. Apart from the ordinary business of the firm, he devoted much attention to the preparation of a sumptuous work, which was produced under his special superintendence, 'The New Testament Illustrated, with Engravings on Wood after Paintings by Fra Angelico, Pietro Perugino, Francesco Francis, Lorenzo di Credi, Fra Bartolommeo, Titian, Raphael, Gaudenzio Ferrari, Danielle da Volterra, and other great Masters, chiefly of the Early Italian School.' The first edition, consisting of 250 copies only, at ten guineas each, was sold on the day of publication. A second and less costly edition was issued in 1864, and reprinted in 1883. He was chairman of the fund raised by 'the trade' in London and the provinces for the relief of the booksellers of Paris during the siege by the Germans in 1870. Of the general operations of the firm while he was its head one of the most notable was the publication of Lord Macaulay's works, especially the 'History of England,' for his share of the profits of the third and fourth volumes of which the author received, and that merely as a payment on account, the famous cheque for 20,000l., dated 13 March 1856 (see Trevelyan, Life of Lord Macaulay, edit. of 1877, ii. 413-14). In 1863 the firm purchased the business and stock of John W. Parker, the publisher of West Strand, London, with which it acquired many valuable or interesting copyrights, among them that of the works of John Stuart Mill and 'Fraser's Magazine.' In 1870 Longman purchased the copyrights of Mr. Disraeli's novels, including 'Lothair.' Thomas Longman died 30 Aug. 1879, and left two sons, T. N. Longman, the present head of the firm, and G. H. Longman. He was the author of a pamphlet, published in 1872, 'Some Observations on Copyright and our Colonies, with special reference to Canada.'[History of the House of Longman (by the writer of this article) in the Critic for March and April 1860; 'William Longman,' by 'H.R.' (Mr. Henry Reeve), in Fraser's Mag. for October 1877; obituary notices, among them those of William Longman in the Athenæum of 10 Aug. and in the Publishers' Circular of 1 Sept. 1877, and of Thomas Longman in the Athenæum of 6 Sept. and Publishers' Circular of 16 Sept. 1879.]