Basil Blackwell (29 May 1889 – 9 April 1984) was born Basil Henry Blackwell in Oxford, England. He was the son of Benjamin Henry Blackwell (1849–1924), founder of Blackwell's bookshop in Oxford, which went on to become the Blackwell's family publishing and bookshop empire, located on Broad Street in central Oxford. The publishing arm is now part of Wiley-Blackwell.
He was educated at
Magdalen College School, Oxford and Merton College, Oxford.
He is remembered as the bookseller who helped break the infamous "Ring" who colluded to close off open competition in auctions, "taking bread from the mouths of the widows and orphans" of Oxford scholars.
He was knighted in 1956 by
Queen Elizabeth II, the only bookseller ever to receive that honour. The same year he was given the honorary Freedom of the City of Oxford. In 1959 he was elected to an honorary Fellowship at Merton. In 1979 he was awarded a Doctorate of Civil Law honoris causa at the Oxford Encaenia.
Blackwell was a prosecution
witness in the 1966 private prosecution attempt to bar the book from Last Exit to Brooklyn UK publication.