Peter Washington

The Publisher & The Poet

The Letters of John Murray to Lord Byron


Liverpool University Press 204pp £18.15 order from our bookshop

As writers know to their cost, most are at the mercy of publishers. When sales dip, contracts vanish. This makes them anxious to please. Occasionally roles are reversed and a writer is so successful that his publisher becomes his creature. More rarely still it happens that writer and publisher are evenly matched. They may not be alike in outlook – this book suggests that they never can be – but they do have complementary talents and purposes. Byron and Murray were the very pattern of such a relationship: two powerful men with an eye for the main chance, each ambitious and successful in his own right, and each ready to fight his corner against the other while knowing when to give way in their common interest. The loving battle between these equal monsters is vividly detailed in this book of letters from Murray to Byron which constitutes a sort of joint biography, despite the fact that few of Byron’s own letters appear.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,
    • 'We read from left to right and from start to finish. Or do we?' Stuart Hannabus considers the merits of reading i… ,
    • Domestic scandal, sexual abuse and serial killers are on the menu in April's crime round-up. revie… ,
    • What did Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, James Boswell and Edmund Burke all have in common? Clare Bucknell reveal… ,