Executive boost for John Murray Archive bid

At the National Library of Scotland today, Culture Minister Frank McAveety announced that the Scottish Executive is to give £6.5 million towards the Library's bid for an outstanding archive of national and international importance.

The John Murray Archive contains writings from some of the greatest world figures from the past 200 years. Some of the correspondence, manuscripts and journals date from as far back as 1768, when Edinburgh-born John Murray founded his London publishing house. Built up by subsequent generations of Murray publishers, the collection of more than 150,000 items contains letters and manuscripts from Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Sir Walter Scott, Benjamin Disraeli, David Livingstone, Charles Darwin and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - to name only a few.

Detail from a David Livingstone manuscript

John Murray VII, the current head of the Murray family, wants to maintain the archive's Scottish connection. Keen to have the collection placed at the National Library of Scotland, he has offered to sell it for just over £33 million, even though it has been valued at £45 million. As a result of the sale, John Murray will set up a charitable trust to support access to and preservation of the archive, including a gift of £3 million to the Library to administer the archive.

Announcing the Executive's contribution to the cost of securing this material for Scotland, Mr McAveety said: 'The archive is a link to the critical role that Scots have played in the development of ideas and imagination through the centuries.'

Martyn Wade, the National Librarian, described the collection as 'a unique treasure trove of invaluable artefacts'. Having them in the Library would be 'an immense achievement', he said.

For further information, including details of how to support the bid, please E-mail development@nls.uk

2 March 2004

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