BLACK, ADAM (1784–1874), Scottish publisher, founder of the firm of A. & C. Black, the son of a builder, was born in Edinburgh on the 20th of February 1784. After serving his apprenticeship to the bookselling trade in Edinburgh and London, he began business for himself in Edinburgh in 1808. By 1826 he was recognized as one of the principal booksellers in the city; and a few years later he was joined in business by his nephew Charles. The two most important events connected with the history of the firm were the publication of the 7th, 8th and 9th editions of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and the purchase of the stock and copyright of the Waverley Novels. The copyright of the Encyclopaedia passed into the hands of Adam Black and a few friends in 1827. In 1851 the firm bought the copyright of the Waverley Novels for £27,000; and in 1861 they became the proprietors of De Quincey’s works. Adam Black was twice lord provost of Edinburgh, and represented the city in parliament from 1856 to 1865. He retired from business in 1865, and died on the 24th of January 1874. He was succeeded by his sons, who removed their business in 1895 to London. There is a bronze statue of Adam Black in East Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.
See Memoirs of Adam Black, edited by Alexander Nicholson (2nd ed., Edinburgh, 1885).