The uphill work of a cartographer

Posted October 28, 2011 4:05 pm by Lauren Forbes

John George Bartholomew (1860-1920), of the Edinburgh cartographic publishing firm, was a hard worker. He complains in a letter in October 1894, probably to Hallam Murray, John Murray IV’s brother, that ill health is forcing him to take a break:

I am very sorry to say that I have been ordered to give up work for 6 months and go abroad. I tried to get on without a holiday this summer but it has proved to be very bad economy… It is a great trial to me to have to run away and leave my work and I trust that it may not cause you any inconvenience.

According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he had a tubercular condition which troubled him through-out his life. Meanwhile, in this letter he outlines work in progress for Murray and assures him he believes it will be completed without delay.

 Later, in February 1899, he writes to John Murray IV of another on-going difficulty and hindrance to his work:

The nature of my work is largely personal and my energies are limited. To help me in my work I train assistants, but in many cases no sooner are they beginning to be really useful to me than they are bribed away by other firms in this country and America – firms who are incapable of training assistants for themselves, but get other people’s ideas by engaging these assistants at exorbitant wages.

 There are many more letters of his, along with others in the family and the firm, in our Bartholomew Archive – - but it is good to have links across our different collections, and the dozen or so J.G. Bartholomew letters are very welcome in the John Murray Archive, along with some letters of the firm itself.

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