George Murray Smith (19 March 1824 – 6 April 1901) was the son of George Smith (1789–1846) who with Alexander Elder (1789–1846) started the Victorian publishing firm of Smith, Elder & Co.. His brainchild, ''The Cornhill Magazine'', was the premier fiction-carrying magazine of the 19th century.〔John Sutherland. "The Cornhill Magazine" in ''The Stanford/Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction''. 1989〕
Smith was born in 1806 and he was the eldest son of George Smith. Smithy adopted the middle name Murray from his mother Elizabeth. His father had started the printing business with Alexander Elder.〔Bill Bell, ‘Smith, George Murray (1824–1901)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011 (accessed 22 June 2015 )〕
The firm was extremely successful. Smith succeeded his father and expanded the product and sales areas to cover most Victorian topics and the British Empire. The firm also supplied a catalogue full of other products desirable to British expatriates. One of Smith's most ambitious projects was the Dictionary of National Biography, which covered notable British figures up to its day in 63 volumes published from 1885 to 1900.
George Smith is widely acknowledged to have inspired the character of Graham Bretton in Charlotte Brontë's novel ''Villette'' (as he himself believed).
From 1890 until his death, Smith lived at Somerset House, in Park Lane, having bought the lease from Lady Hermione Graham, a daughter of the twelfth Duke of Somerset. The house became known as 40, Park Lane.〔''Notes & Queries'', vol. 133 (1916), (p. 318 (snippet) )〕 He died at St. George's Hill, Byfleet, Surrey on 6 April 1901.
His son was George Murray Smith the Younger.
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