The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and America

By Richard B. Sher | Go to book overview

[6]
The Achievement of William Creech

Although the London-Edinburgh publishing axis was dominated by the London firms of Millar-Cadell, the Strahans, and the Robinsons, their counterparts in Edinburgh were also significant. This chapter examines the publishing career and reputation of the most prominent bookseller in late eighteenth-century Edinburgh, William Creech (1745–1815), whose name appears in the imprint of more than sixty first editions listed in table 2. It shows how Creech emerged as the protégé not only of Kincaid in Edinburgh but also of Strahan and Cadell in London and how he balanced feelings of loyalty and deference toward his London partners with a strong commitment to publishing Enlightenment books. These findings are then contrasted with the unsympathetic portrayal of Creech's career by commentators associated with a younger rival in the Edinburgh book trade, Archibald Constable, whose views have shaped perceptions of Creech's reputation since the early nineteenth century.


THE CAREER OF A BOOKSELLER

William Creech was the offspring of a marriage between a Scottish Presbyterian minister of the same name and an English woman known as Mary Buley or Bulley, who had come to Scotland as a young girl in the late 1720s and subsequently had been employed in the household of the fifth Lord Cranstoun at Crailing House in Roxburghshire. She probably met William Creech, Sr., during the 1730s, when he was also working at Crailing House as tutor to George Cranstoun, a brother of the woman

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