Daniel Macmillan (1813-57), co-founder of the publishing house of Macmillan.
Daniel Macmillan was the elder of two Scottish brothers born on the Isle of Arran to crofter parents. His life in the book trade started early; though having little formal education, he was apprenticed to a bookseller in Argyll at ten years old for a wage of 1s 6d. After his apprenticeship was finished he moved to a bookshop in Glasgow and developed the tuberculosis that would dog his life.
After failing to find a post in London, he began working for a Mr Johnson of Cambridge at a salary of £30 per year and lived here for three years, reading widely and making friends among the university community. After a few years back in London, in 1843, Daniel and his brother Alexander opened their own shop in Aldergate Street, close to Paternoster Row, the traditional heart of the book trade.
Less than a year later, Daniel bought the business of a retiring bookseller (Newby) at 17 Trinity Street, Cambridge, with a loan from a friend. From this site their business grew, first publishing educational titles and books on christianity, literature, science and mathematics. By 1845, the Macmillan brothers were able to buy a book-selling business from Thomas Stevenson at 1 Trinity Street, a bigger building in a more prestigious location and here they encouraged dons and students to mingle in the upstairs salon, discussing the events of the day and exchanging knowledge and ideas. (On the corner opposite Senate House and Great St Mary’s Church, 1 Trinity Street later became Bowes & Bowes – established by Daniel Macmillan’s nephew Robert Bowes (1835-1919) – and is now the Cambridge University Press Bookshop.)
Success and ill-health
Daniel’s delicate health meant leaving Alexander in charge of the business for periods of time while he recovered in warmer climates, but despite these problems their business suited Cambridge and the brothers prospered.
In September 1850, Daniel married Frances Eliza Orridge (1821-67) and the couple had four children. Despite continued personal happiness and professional success (Macmillan published their first bestseller in 1855, Charles Kingsley’s Westward Ho! and another, Thomas Hughes’ Tom Brown’s Schooldays in 1857), Daniel’s health deteriorated with repeated bouts of TB and in 1857, after an attack of pleurisy and a throat ulcer had weakened him and left him unable to eat or drink, he died on 26 June. He was buried in Mill Road Cemetery on 1 July. His wife, Eliza joined him there ten years later.
Parish : St Mary the Great
Charles Morgan, The House of Macmillan (London: Macmillan, 1943)
Thomas Hughes, Memoir of Daniel Macmillan (London: Macmillan, 1882)
Dictionary of National Biography
By Rachel Calder