Fraser, James (d.1841) (DNB00)

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FRASER, JAMES (d. 1841), publisher, was of an Inverness family. He carried on business at 215 Regent Street, and there published ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ so called from Hugh Fraser, a barrister, who, with Dr. Maginn, was the projector of the new tory review, afterwards familiarly known as ‘Regina.’ James Fraser never assumed the paternity of the magazine, which was always spoken of in his books and correspondence as ‘The Town and Country.’ The first number of ‘Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country’ appeared in February 1830. The famous ‘Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters’ came out in it between 1830 and 1838; eighty-one portraits, chiefly by Daniel Maclise, with letterpress by Maginn. In 1833 a handsome quarto volume containing thirty-four of the portraits was issued, and in 1874 the complete gallery republished for the first time. The portraits were reduced in size and the literary matter much increased in ‘The Maclise Portrait Gallery,’ by William Bates, with eighty-five portraits, London, 1883, sm. 8vo. On 3 Aug. 1836 took place the cowardly attack by Grantley Berkeley [q. v.] upon the publisher in consequence of a severe criticism of his novel ‘Berkeley Castle.’ Cross actions were tried 3 Dec. on the part of Fraser for assault and Berkeley for libel. The one obtained 100l. damages for the assault and the other 40s. for the libel. Among the contributors to the magazine were Carlyle, Thackeray, F. S. Mahony (Father Prout), T. Love Peacock, Mr. J. A. Froude, Mr. W. Allingham, and many other well-known writers. After Fraser's death it fell to his successor, G. W. Nickisson, whose name first appeared on it in 1842. Five years later it was transferred to John W. Parker, of West Strand, by whom and by his successors it was continued under the same name to October 1882, when it was superseded by ‘Longman's Magazine.’

Fraser published many books, among them Carlyle's ‘Hero Worship.’ The story of the dealings between the author and ‘the infatuated Fraser, with his dog's-meat tart of a magazine,’ is told in J. A. Froude's ‘Thomas Carlyle’ (1882, vol. ii. and 1885, vol. i.). He was liberal and straightforward in business transactions and had much taste and judgment in literary matters. He died 2 Oct. 1841 at Argyll Street, London, after a lingering illness attributed by the newspapers of the day to the injuries inflicted upon him by Grantley Berkeley (see quotations in Fraser's Magazine, 1841, xxiv. 628–30).

[Literary Gazette, 9 Oct. 1841, p. 660; Gent. Mag. 1841, new ser. xvi. 553; Grantley Berkeley's Life and Recollections, 1865–6, 4 vols.; Fraser's Mag. January 1837, pp. 100–43; W. Bates's Maclise Portrait Gallery, 1883; Notes and Queries 4th ser. vii. 31, 211, 5th ser. v. 249.]

H. R. T.