Introducing the John Murray Archive

Still from Isabella Bird film
Film still of Curator Rachel Beattie

The John Murray archive is a treasure trove of over 200 years of the firm's publishing history. It contains stories of travel, adventure, passion and much more. Watch curators introduce two remarkable women in the archive in the Isabella Bird video and Caroline Lamb video.

What the archive is

The archive contains manuscripts, private letters and business papers from authors who shaped the modern world through their writings on:

Famous names in the archive

Portrait of David Livingstone
David
Livingstone

Among the circle of authors and correspondents (well over 16,000 in all) represented in the archive are writers as diverse as:

Their personal letters and other items give a remarkable insight into many of the lives of these world-famous authors. Visit the Who's who section for a glimpse into these remarkable lives.

A resource for learning and inspiration

Two students with a manuscript
Students exploring the archive

There is a wealth of material to help get you started in learning about the ideas, works and inspiration behind some of the world's greatest authors. Go to the interactive timeline to explore more of the John Murray Archive.

With assistance from the Scottish Government, the Heritage Lottery Fund and other generous donors, the National Library of Scotland has secured the archive to be a lasting public resource for research, learning and inspiration.

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Top of page

Interactive timeline


'On the Origin of Species'


Who's who in the archive


Curator's blog


John Murray Archive app

iTouch showing John Murray painting Take a fascinating journey through the archive with our freeapp.

Download from the App Store


Ideas factory interactive writing workshop

Screen grab of web feature Plan the story you want to tell before you start writing it.

Go to 'The ideas factory'


Self-help heroes educational resource

Screen grab of web feature Discover what it took to be a Victorian self-help hero through their interactive tales.

Go to the 'Heroes' resource