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Basil Blackwell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Basil Henry Blackwell (29 May 1889 – 9 April 1984) was born 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 family's publishing and bookshop empire, located on Broad Street in central Oxford.[1] The publishing arm is now part of Wiley-Blackwell.

He was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford and Merton College, Oxford.[2][3] He was the first person in his family to attend university. In 1913, he began working with his father at Blackwell's. Upon his father's death in 1924, he took over the company and remained working there for decades. He married Marion Christine Soans.[when?] Their daughter was Dame Penelope Jessel.[1]

He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1956 by Queen Elizabeth II,[2][3] the only bookseller ever to receive that honour.[citation needed] In 1959, he was elected to an honorary Fellowship at Merton.[3] In 1970, he was given the honorary Freedom of the City of Oxford.[4]

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 Last Exit to Brooklyn from UK publication.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "The History of Blackwell". Blackwell's. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b McDowell, Edwin (11 April 1984). "Sir Basil Blackwell; Book Publisher Lead Worldwide Business". New York Times. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 56.
  4. ^ Full list of people and organisations that have been awarded Freedom of the City of Oxford since 1900, oxford.gov.uk. Accessed 3 June 2024.