William Tait (publisher)
William Tait (1793–1864) was a Scottish publisher, best known for Tait's Magazine.
The son of James Tait, a builder in Edinburgh, he was born there on 11 May 1793. After a short time at Edinburgh University, he was articled to a writer to the signet. Giving up on a legal career, with his brother Charles Bertram Tait he opened a bookshop in Edinburgh, and shortly afterwards began publishing.
In 1833 Tait was elected to the first reformed town council of Edinburgh, and in the same year was sent to gaol for four days on 10 August for refusing to pay church rates, which were then a target in radical circles. His shop was a meeting-place, and it is told that Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Carlyle were present at the same time without managing to meet.
Tait retired from business in 1848, and bought the estate of Prior Bank, near Melrose, where he died on 4 October 1864.
Tait's major publications were: Thomas Brown's Philosophy of the Human Mind; Thomas Carlyle's German Romance; the collected edition of Jeremy Bentham's works, and Patrick Fraser Tytler's History of Scotland.’
Tait's Edinburgh Magazine appeared in April 1832, and was issued monthly until December 1864. It was a literary and political magazine, its radical politics being its special feature, and giving it influence in Scotland, where it had for some time a larger circulation than any of its competitors. In 1834 it was reduced in price from 2/6 to 1s. At first Tait was editor, but from 1834, when his magazine incorporated Johnstone’s, he used Christian Isobel Johnstone. Contributors included Thomas De Quincey, Leigh Hunt, Harriet Martineau, John Stuart Mill, and politicians such as Richard Cobden and John Bright who sympathised with the opinions of the magazine.