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First With The News: The History of W. H. Smith 1792-1972 - Charles Wilson

Book Club Associates, 1985, Hardback in Dustwrapper..
Condition: Very Good — in Very Good Dust Wrapper. Gently faded at the spine of the dust wrapper. Edges of the text block lightly tanned. Text complete, clean and tight.

From the cover: “Henry James wrote in 1888 of ‘the fine flare of one of W. H. Smith’s bookstalls. A glamour hangs over the glittering booth, and a tantalizing air of clever new things’. The family firm of W. H. Smith had replaced scruffy touts and furtive publications with reputable books and newspapers, and had risen above the shady reputation of some other news distributors to become a national symbol in Victorian England of punctuality, morality and respectability. It was a far cry from the tiny ‘newswalk’ established in 1792 in Grosvenor Street, London, by Henry Walton Smith. The entrepreneurial spirit of the W. H. Smith business meant that any opportunities for expanding trade were seized on from the start. William Henry Smith I, an irascible, meticulous man whose daemonic energies were legendary, dominated the market for prompt and widespread newspaper distribution by taking advantage of the first fast, nationwide coach services. His son, who sacrificed a vocation for the Church to become a partner, transformed the business by conquering ‘the railway world of reading’ and satisfying the new and insatiable appetite of the great British public for reading matter throughout the country. Circulating libraries, wholesaling and retail shops were just some of the areas into which the firm that had been ‘built up on farthings’ diversified as it anticipated demand, and adapted accordingly. Professor Wilson’s immensely readable book sets in historical perspective the growth of the firm and illuminates the secret of its success. He describes vividly how W. H. Smith’s rose out of the Industrial Revolution and emerged into the twentieth century as front-runners in a business where ‘newsagents came and went, only the fittest survived’, to achieve its present position as a household name and a powerful high street trading force.”
Size: 9½" x 6¼"
Number of Pages: 510

£6.50 (Now Sold)