Robertson, David (DNB00)

ROBERTSON, DAVID (1795–1854), bookseller, son of a farmer, was born in the parish of Kippen, Perthshire, in 1795. He received a fair education in his native district, and in 1810 was apprenticed to William Turnbull, bookseller, Trongate, Glasgow. On the death of Turnbull in 1823, Robertson carried on the business for seven years, in partnership with Thomas Atkinson. In 1830 the partnership was dissolved, and Robertson opened new premises in a different part of Trongate. His gift of story-telling, his love of Scottish poetry, and his tact and shrewdness, soon won him valued friendships and success, and his place of business became a rendezvous for local men of letters. To his ordinary trade as bookseller he gradually added publishing. As a citizen he was highly appreciated, and in 1842 his portrait, painted by Sir Daniel Macnee, was publicly presented to him. He died of cholera on 6 Oct. 1854, and was buried in Glasgow necropolis, where his friends placed a memorial obelisk, with medallion portrait. He married, in 1826, Frances Aitken, daughter of a prominent Glasgow builder. Three daughters and a son David, who succeeded to the business, survived him.

In 1832 Robertson published the first issue of ‘Whistle Binkie,’ a collection of contemporary Scottish lyrics. This he followed up with four similar series, and in 1846 with a separate volume of ‘Songs for the Nursery,’ which was highly praised by Lord Jeffrey in a letter to the publisher (Whistle Binkie, i. 89, ed. 1890). The whole were reissued in one volume in 1848, in two volumes in 1853, and again, with considerable additions, in 1878 and 1890. Two series of ‘The Laird of Logan,’ graphic and characteristic Scottish stories narrated by Robertson himself and others, appeared in 1835 and 1837, and a complete enlarged edition, dedicated to the prince consort, in 1841. New issues, with additions, were published in 1845 and 1854, and frequently reprinted. Robertson also published William Motherwell's ‘Poems’ (1832, 1847, 1849) and Henderson's excellent collection of ‘Scottish Proverbs’ (1832), besides the ‘Western Supplement’ to ‘Oliver and Boyd's Almanac,’ from 1824 onwards.

[Information from Robertson's son, Mr. David Robertson, Glasgow; Whistle Binkie, ed. 1878 and 1890; Strang's Glasgow and its Clubs; Aird's Sketches of Glasgow Notabilities; Mackay's Through the Long Day; Hedderwick's Backward Glances.]

T. B.