The founder of the firm, Thomas Longman (1) (1699-1755) was the son of Ezekiel Longman (d. 1708), a gentleman of Bristol. Thomas was apprenticed in 1716 to John Osborn, a Londor bookseller. At the expiration of his apprenticeship he married Osborn's daughter, and in August 1724 purchased the stock and household goods of William Taylor, the first publisher of Robinson Crusoe, for £2282 95. 6d. Taylor’s two shops were known respectively as the Black Swan and the Ship, in Paternoster Row and became the publishing house premises.
Osborn, who afterwards entered into partnership with his son-in-law, held one-sixth of the shares in Ephraim Chambers's Cyclopaedia of the Arts and Sciences, and Thomas Longman was one of the six booksellers who undertook the responsibility of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary. In 1754 Thomas Longman took his nephew into partnership, the title of the firm becoming T. and T. Longman.
Upon the death of his uncle in 1755, Thomas Longman (2) (1730-1797) became sole proprietor. He greatly extended the colonial trade of the firm. He had three sons. Of these, Thomas Norton Longman (3) (1771-1842) succeeded to the business. In 1794 Owen Rees became a partner, and Thomas Brown, who was for many years after 1811 a partner, entered the house as an apprentice. Brown died in 1869 at the age of 92.
In 1799 Longman purchased the copyright of Lindley Murray's English Grammar, which had an annual sale of about 50,000 copies; he also purchased, about 1800, the copyright, from Joseph Cottle, of Bristol, of Southey's Joan of Arc and Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads. He published the works of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey and Scott, and acted as London agent for the Edinburgh Review, which was started in 1802. In 1804 two more partners were admitted; and in 1824 the title of the firm was changed to Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown & Green. In 1814 arrangements were made with Thomas Moore for the publication of Laila Rookh, for which he received £3000; and when Archibald Constable failed in 1826, Longmans became the proprietors of the Edinburgh Review. They issued in 1829 Lardner’s Cabinet Encyclopaedia, and in 1832 McCulloch's Commercial Dictionary.
Thomas Norton Longman(3) died on August 29 1842, leaving his two sons, Thomas (4) (1804-1879) and William Longman (1813-1877), in control of the business in Paternoster Row. Their first success was the publication of Macaulay's Lays of Ancient Rome, which was followed in 1841 by the issue of the first two volumes of his History of England, which in a few years had a sale of 40,000 copies.
The two brothers were well known for their literary talent; Thomas Longman edited a beautifully illustrated edition of the New Testament, and William Longman was the author of several important books, among them a History of the Three Cathedrals dedicated to St Paul (1869) and a work on the History of the Life and Times of Edward III (1873). In 1863 the firm took over the business of Mr JW Parker, and with it Fraser's Magazine, and the publication of the works of John Stuart Mill and JA Froude; while in 1890 they incorporated with their own all the publications of the old firm of Rivington, established in 1711. The family control of the firm (later Longmans, Green & Co.) was continued by Thomas Norton Longman(5), son of Thomas Longman (4).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.