Abraham John Valpy

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Abraham John Valpy


Abraham John Valpy, the second son of teacher Dr Richard Valpy was a classical scholar and publisher

Born at Reading in 1787 he was educated at Reading Grammar School, and at Pembroke College, Oxford. Before he left school he published a volume of Cicero's Letters which passed through five editions, and, while still an undergraduate, a collection of his own Latin poems.


His ambition was to become a famous printer of the classics, like Aldus and Stephanus in the past. With this object he bound himself as apprentice to a London printer, became a liveryman of the Stationers Company, and acquired a printing business in Tooke's Court, Chancery Lane.

His first great speculation, a new edition of Stephens' Thesaurus Graecae Linguae in 13 volumes, which had taken several years to prepare, was killed by a brilliant but cruel review in the Quarterly Review by Blomfield, later Bishop of London. Undismayed, VaIpy gathered round him a group of classical scholars, and, beginning with Plautus, Aesop, and Eirtropius, issued an immense number of school classics with English notes and vocabularies, many of them edited by his father, his uncles, and his brother Francis.

He also started The Classical Journal, which ran for 40 volumes, and a weekly literary paper, called The Museum.

A notable achievement was his Family Classical Library, 52 volumes of translations of the classics. Whatever he planned, he planned on a gigantic scale. He did not confine himself to Greek and Latin. He wrote Rules for the pronunciation of the French Language 1821, and he published an immense series of Sermons by Divines of the Church of England, an Epitome of English Literature, a 15-volume edition of Shakespere, and a serial National Gallery of Painting and Sculpture.

In 1838 he retired from publishing with a comfortable fortune, and became a director of the University Life Assurance Company.

He married Harriet, daughter of the Rev S T Wylde of Burrington, but they had no children.

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