Sir Richard Phillips

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Portrait of Sir Richard Phillips by James Saxon, (1806), oil on canvas

Sir Richard Phillips (13 December 1767 – 2 April 1840) was an English schoolteacher, author and publisher.


Phillips was born in London. Following some political difficulties in Leicester where he was a schoolteacher and bookseller, he returned to London, established premises in Paternoster Row, St. Paul's Churchyard, and founded The Monthly Magazine in 1796;[1] its editor was Dr. John Aikin, and among its early contributors were fellow radicals William Godwin and Thomas Holcroft.[2] He built up a prominent fortune based on the speculative commission of newly revised textbooks and their publication, in a competitive market that had been freed by the House of Lords' decision in 1777 to strike down the perpetual copyright asserted by a small group of London booksellers to standard introductory works.[3] His Juvenile Library published in 1800–03 provided the steady returns of all successful children's books.[4] By 1807 he was in sufficient standing to serve as a Sheriff of London, at which time he was knighted on the occasion of presenting an address.[5]

Phillips overextended himself and was declared bankrupt in the Bank Panic. He died in Brighton and is buried in the western extension of St Nicholas' Churchyard.[6] He was a vegetarian.[7]


He was the author, under his own name, of On the Powers and Duties of Juries, and on the Criminal Laws of England, 1811; A Morning's Walk from London to Kew, 1817; A Personal Tour Through the United Kingdom, 1828.

Many of his further works were published under at least five pseudonyms.[which?] His own political leanings, evinced in Golden Rules of Social Philosophy, Or, A New System of Practical Ethics (1826) encouraged him to publish works by the radical jobbing writer of educational texts, Jeremiah Joyce, though often under pseudonymous disguises;[8] Rees and Britten asserted in their Reminiscences of Literary London that many works were written by Phillips and attributed to well-known writers, who oversaw the proofs and put their names to the manuscripts, for remuneration.[9] Joyce was the actual author of Gregory's Encyclopedia published by Phillips.


  1. ^ John Issitt (1853). "Reminiscences of Literary London from 1779-1853". Thomas Rees and John Britton, London. p. 79ff. Archived from the original on 29 Mar 2009.  |chapter= ignored (help)
  2. ^ Rees and Britten, p. 79f.
  3. ^ Marina Frasca-Spada and Nicholas Jardine, Books and the Sciences in History (Cambridge University Press, 2000) "A Textbook revolution", p. 319.
  4. ^ A Rauch, "Preparing “The rising generation”: Romanticism and Richard Phillips's Juvenile library 1800–1803" Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 1991.
  5. ^ He published his Letter to the Livery of London, on the Office of Sheriff in 1808.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Burial vaults and tomb in western part of St Nicholas' graveyard, Dyke Road (west side), Brighton  (Grade II) (1380455)". National Heritage List for England. 
  7. ^ International Vegetarian Union: Sir Richard Phillips
  8. ^ J. R. Issitt, "Jeremiah Joyce: science educationist", Endeavour 26.3 (September 2002) pp 97-101.
  9. ^ Rees and Britten, p. 80.

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