Thursday, January 11, 2007

Smith, Elder & Co. deserve a Blue Plaque

A few months ago BrontëBlog was in London and on a visit to the original building of Smith, Elder & Co. noticed that there wasn't any Blue Plaque marking the site. Thus, we decided to contact the local authorities on what should be done in order to have a plaque erected for either George Smith or the publishing house. We tought it relevant enough and an interesting notice for passers-by. We were asked to forward biographical information and the reasons why we considered he/the firm deserved the plaque.

After about two months, the authorities have carried out their research and have approved the proposal. They will now be contacting the current owner and getting things started. However, they tell us that it's very rare for them to provide the whole funding - about 1,000 pounds - since they have no appointed funds for this.

We are only wondering if any of our readers could give us some idea on how to proceed or who to turn to for help. Any initiative or suggestion will be much appreciated. And of course, if anyone reading us feels like doing a generous gesture, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at bronteblog AT gmail DOT com.

Our readers will agree that it is a good cause and that it would be very sad for the project to be dropped at this stage. Smith, Elder & Co. weren't just Charlotte Brontë's publishers, but the publishers of Emily and Anne's works when Thomas Newby sold the rights to them and many beloved 19th century writers such as Elizabeth Gaskell (in later years) and W.M. Thackeray among many others.

EDIT (April 2007)
From The Brontë Society Annual Report 2006

Heritage and Conservation

Smith, Elder & Co is to be commemorated by the positioning of a plaque on the former publishing house (...). The Brontë Blog initiated the project and the Society will be providing support and assistance, including fundraising for the cost of the plaque. The project is its early stage.
ALEXANDRA LESLEY. REPRESENTATIVE FOR HERITAGE AND CONSERVATION.

EDIT (November 2008)
From Making History. Blue Plaque Scheme:
George Smith, the publisher who bankrolled Stephen's Dictionary of National Biography, is on the current shortlist for full address research.
HOWARD SPENCER. BLUE PLAQUES HISTORIAN AT ENGLISH HERITAGE.
EDIT (April 2009)
From The Brontë Society Annual Report 2008
Heritage and Conservation

There is slow progress with regard to the placing of a plaque to commemorate the former publishing house, Smith Elder & Co. I am negotiating with the owners of the building and hope that they will grant permission in due course and allow us to go ahead and commission the plaque.
ALEXANDRA LESLEY. REPRESENTATIVE FOR HERITAGE AND CONSERVATION.

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Comments :

4 comments to “ Smith, Elder & Co. deserve a Blue Plaque ”
Zoe said...
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perhaps you can set up a paypal donation account? i would happily donate some money.. unfortunately not much, as I'm only a student with no income. Just a suggestion.

Cristina said...
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Thank you for your suggestion. We are currently looking into different possibilities. We will keep you posted.

Thank you very, very much for your interest

Anonymous said...
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Hi

I'd love to know what happened with this - did the plaque ever get put up? And could you tell me the exact address of these old offices for Smith, Elder as I'd really like to go and see the building?(My interest lies with Leslie Stephen and the DNB)
Many thanks
Vanessa

Cristina said...
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Hello Vanessa,

As you can see from the latest edit to the post, the process is making slow progress at the moment. A few problems were encountered but they might yet be overcome - hopefully they will.

The exact address is 65, Cornhill and it currently houses the Shanghai Commercial Bank. Stories have been added and several changes made to the building but with some attention you will manage to see a resemblance to how it looked back when it housed the Smith, Elder offices (like this: http://www.underprints.com/Philately/ProtectiveOverprintsAndUnderprints/UserPages/SmithElder&Co/Images/65%20Cornhill%20-%20Smith%20Elder%20&%20co.jpg).

If you are even remotely interested in the Brontës or Thackeray, you might also want to stop at 32 Cornhill on your way there as there is a door depicting them for no - to me - known reason there.

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