Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Chapman, Frederic

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CHAPMAN, FREDERIC (1823–1895), publisher, was the youngest son of Michael and Mary Chapman of Hitchin, Herts. He was born at Cork Street, Hitchin, in 1823, in the house which had belonged to his collateral ancestor, George Chapman, the poet [q. v.], and was educated at Hitchin grammar school. At the age of eighteen he entered the employment of Chapman & Hall, publishers, a firm founded in 1834, of which his cousin, Edward Chapman, was the head. The publishing house was then at 186 Strand. In 1850 it was removed to 193 Piccadilly, and it finally, in March 1881, took up its quarters in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. On the death of William Hall (of Chapman & Hall) in March 1847 Frederic Chapman succeeded him as partner, and on the retirement of Edward Chapman in 1864, Frederic Chapman became the head of the firm. In this position he embarked upon a pushing and successful policy. For a time he published the works of the Brownings, while Lord Lytton, Anthony Trollope,and George Meredith were all clients of the firm; Trollope's elder son was for three and a half years associated with Chapman as a partner. With Dickens his relations were long very close. Dickens's connection with Chapman & Hall began in 1836, when William Hall made to Dickens the suggestion which ultimately led to the publication of the 'Pickwick Papers' (Forster, i. 67 sqq.) The firm subsequently published 'Nicholas Nickleby,' 'Master Humphrey's Clock,' 'Barnaby Rudge,' 'Old Curiosity Shop,' 'Martin Chuzzlewit,' and the 'Christmas Carol;' but in 1844 Dickens quarrelled with the firm, and entered into relations with Messrs. Bradbury & Evans. In 1859, however, Dickens renewed his connection with Messrs. Chapman & Hall, who issued the remainder of his books, and Frederic Chapman purchased the copyright of Dickens's works upon the author's death in 1870. In 1845 Chapman & Hall published the second edition of Carlyle's 'Life of Schiller,' and soon after 1880, when the business was turned into a company, it purchased the copyright of Carlyle's works.

Frederic Chapman projected in 1860 the 'Fortnightly Review,' which was at first edited by George Henry Lewes [q. v.] and issued twice a month. When Mr. John Morley was appointed editor in 1867 it became a monthly periodical. Mr. Morley retired from the editorship in 1883, and was succeeded in turn by Mr. T. H. S. Escott, Mr. Frank Harris, and Mr. W. L. Courtney. In 1880 Chapman turned his business into a limited company, at the head of which he remained until the time of his death. He died on 1 March 1895, at his house, 10 Ovington Square, London. He was twice married. His first wife was Clara, eldest daughter of Joseph Woodin of Petersham, Surrey. By her he left a son, Frederic Hamilton Chapman, an officer in the Duke of Cornwall's light infantry. His second wife, who survives him, was Annie Marion, daughter of Sir Robert Harding, chief commissioner in bankruptcy. By her he left a daughter, Reine, married to Harold Brooke Alder.

Chapman was on intimate terms with numerous men of letters of his day. He was a keen sportsman—a hunting man in his earlier days, and to the last an expert shot.

[Private information; Forster's Life of Dickens, ed. 1876, passim; Anthony Trollope's Autobiography.]

I. S. L.