“A sense of happiness stole over him”

Houghton Library Blog 2015-12-22

This post is part of an ongoing series featuring items recently cataloged from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.


Blackie, Fullerton & Co. was originally a bookselling firm founded in Glasgow in 1809 by John Blackie Sr., Archibald Fullerton, and William Somerville.  They specialized in the sale of books in monthly or quarterly installments, mainly by subscription.  Two years after its founding, the firm began publishing its own materials.   In 1831, it became a family business after Fullerton and Somerville’s retirements, taking on John Blackie Jr. as a partner and renaming itself to Blackie & Son.  The company amalgamated with a printing company run by a younger son of John Blackie Sr., and in 1890 was renamed Blackie & Son Limited.  The company opened operations in India, Canada, and Australia in the first half of the 20th century, and continued to publish until 1991.


Spurred on by compulsory education for children aged 5 to 13 in England and Wales made possible by the Elementary Education Act of 1870, Blackie & Son Ltd focused much of its attention on educational texts and other books for children.   Along with reimaginings of classic literature for schools like Little Women and Wuthering Heights, Blackie & Son Ltd produced a Boy’s Annual and Girl’s Annual, filled with short stories and illustrations of adventure.

This installment, believed to be from 1929, most likely made it into the Santo Domingo collection because of stories like “Hashish” by Walter Rhoades, about an English sailor on a Malaysian rubber plantation.  The protagonist gets in with the wrong crowd and finds himself being smoked out of his hiding place with charcoal and hemp, which “would act very much like opium, and send you off.”


The University of Glasgow holds the business records of Blackie & Son Ltd in their archive.  See the finding aid here.

To learn more, Blackie’s Boys Annual can be found in Widener’s collection.  London: Blackie & Son Limited, [1929].

Thanks to Irina Rogova, Santo Domingo Library Assistant, for contributing this post.