Adam Black FRSE (10 February 1784 – 24 January 1874) was a Scottish publisher and politician. He founded the A & C Black publishing company, and published the 7th, 8th and 9th editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica.
Black was born in Charles Street, Edinburgh, the son of a builder, and educated at the High School and the University of Edinburgh. After serving as an apprentice to Mr Fairbairn, an Edinburgh bookseller, he began business for himself in Edinburgh in 1808. By 1826 he was recognised as one of the principal booksellers in the city; and a few years later he was joined in business by his nephew Charles.
The two most important events connected with the history of the firm were the publication of the 7th, 8th and 9th editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica, and the purchase of the stock and copyright of the Waverley Novels. The copyright of the Encyclopaedia passed into the hands of Adam Black and a few friends in 1827. In 1851 the firm bought the copyright of the Waverley Novels for £27,000; and in 186_, they became the proprietors of De Quincey's works.
Adam Black was twice Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and represented the city in parliament from 1856 to 1865. He retired from business in 1865, and died on the 24th of January 1874. He was succeeded by his sons, who removed their business in 1895 to London. There is a bronze statue of Adam Black in East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.
See Memoirs of Adam Black, edited by Alexander Nicholson (2nd ed., Edinburgh, 1885).
- Waterston, Charles D; Macmillan Shearer, A (July 2006). Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783-2002: Biographical Index I. Edinburgh: The Royal Society of Edinburgh. ISBN 978-0-902198-84-5. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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