A publisher, his wife, the Titanic (and a portrait)
Hidden away among 34 correspondents with the surname Brown, in MS.40157, is John Murray Brown. He was an American publisher, of the firm Little, Brown & Co., which his father, James Brown, co-founded. As I tried to track down details for John Murray Brown, I kept coming across online links to his wife, Caroline Lane Brown, with a story of very current interest. Mrs Brown came over to England in 1912 with two sisters, to attend a family funeral. They set off home for America on 10th April 1912 from Southampton – on board the Titanic. Happily all 3 sisters survived the disaster. More details can be found here:
I was also interested in James and John Brown themselves. James Brown visited John Murray II in 1841, and wrote to him from Liverpool before heading home for Boston:
I cannot leave the country without thanking you again for your kind attentions which have contributed more than any other circumstance to the pleasure I have enjoyed whilst here.
He kept in touch with John Murray III following the death of his father, writing in February 1846:
I take the earliest opportunity to thank you for your kind attention to my request that you would send me a copy of your lamented Father’s portrait. The painting came safely by the Cambria wh. arrived on the 19th of this month…
The painting has been very much admired by all who have seen it. But I beg you to believe that I set a value on it altogether independent of its merits as a painting and its great historical interest.
Later, the son John Murray Brown corresponded with John Murray IV in March 1892, sending a photo of the library at his house in Belmont, which John Murray IV had visited. (The photo is now missing). John Murray Brown is keen to point out that he is not quite as bald as the picture would seem to suggest, then adds:
The portrait of your grandfather still hangs in its old place above the fireplace, a companion to that of my father.
A strong transatlantic friendship was obviously in place.