Byron and John Murray: A Poet and His Publisher is the first comprehensive account of the relationship between Byron and the man who published his poetry for over ten years.
It is commonly seen as a paradox of Byron’s literary career that the liberal poet was published by a conservative publishing house. It is less of a paradox when, as this book illustrates, we see John Murray as a competitive, innovative publisher who understood how to deal with his most famous author. The book begins by charting the early years of Murray’s success prior to the publication of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, and describes Byron’s early engagement with the literary marketplace. The book describes in detail how Byron became one of Murray’s authors, before documenting the success of their commercial association and the eventual and protracted disintegration of their relationship. Byron wrote more letters to John Murray than anyone else and their correspondence represents a fascinating dialogue on the nature of Byron’s poetry, and particularly the nature of his fame. It is the central argument of this book that Byron’s ambivalent attitude towards professional writing and popular literature can be illuminated through an understanding of his relationship with John Murray.