|Charles Rivington by Sir Emery Walker|
Today we meet a man who left his midlands home for London and a new life as a bookseller. Surrounded by the printed page, Charles Rivington truly found his niche and branched out to establish a hugely successful publishing house that endured for centuries.
Rivington was born in Chesterfield to butcher Thurston Rivington and Mary Wynn. However, the young man had no wish to follow his father's trade and in his early twenties he moved to London, where he took a position as apprentice to bookbinder, Emanuel Matthews. He remained with Mathwes for some years before moving into book selling when he took over the business of Richard Chiswell. His new venture specialised in educational and ecclesiastical literature with some success, eventually gaining particular note for Methodist texts as the years drew on.
As his professional stature grew, Rivington married Eleanor Pease, with whom he would eventually have 13 children. In fact, this was the start of a publishing dynasty that endured into the twentieth century.
However, Rivington was not content with his usually most respectable topics and branched out in 1724 by publishing the popular, A General History of the Pyrates. In 1736 he joined with a partner to found a company of booksellers named The New Conger, a response to the established company, The Conger. By now hugely influential in the publishing world, Rivington befriended Samuel Richardson and convinced him to write a novel in the form of letters, which would eventually become Pamela, or, Virtue Rewarded. Rivington published Pamela and it caused a sensation, becoming the must-read novel of the 1741.
Upon Rivington's death his publishing house passed into the ownership of his sons, John and James. John established a similar business in New York whilst James remained in London, making his name as the publisher of choice for the Church of England.