The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Thomas Fisher Unwin, 1848-1935

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1848.01.24
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1935.02.06
Place of Death:


Thomas Fisher Unwin was a London publisher. He married Emma Jane Catherine Cobden, the daughter of the statesman and businessman Richard Cobden, M.P., of Heyshott, and Catherine Anne Williams. Their nephew Stanley Unwin was a partner in the publishing firm George Allen and Unwin Ltd.


Unwin was the publisher of the Century from about 1887. JW owned a copy of A King of Dreams and Shadows by Salik, published by Fisher Unwin in 1894, and on the inside back cover drew a small sketch, Sketch (M.1418). He also owned Fisher Unwin's publication of George Moore's Evelyn Innes and drew Man looking out of a window (M.1545) on its dust jacket.

Unwin published S. R. Crockett's novel The Grey Man in 1896, and according to the author, quoted by Pennell, Unwin arranged for JW to make a lithograph of Crockett. However, JW painted a small portrait instead, The Grey Man: Portrait of S. R. Crockett (YMSM 453). JW told the Pennells that Unwin was 'rather pleased with it'.

In the 1890s and early 1900s Unwin and his wife were on social, not just business, terms with JW. JW spent the Christmas of 1896 with the Unwin family.

The University of Bristol Special Collections Department hold correspondence, photographs, pamphlets and newspaper cuttings related to Unwin and his wife. Reading University holds the records of George Allen and Unwin.


Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Unwin, Stanley, The Truth About Publishing, London, 1960; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995; Ryder, Brian, 'The George Allen and Unwin Collection: Reading University Library', Publishing History, vol. 47, 2000, pp. 67-78; Dictionary of National Biography Online, Oxford, 1997 (accessed 7 April 2004); Papers of Jane Cobden Unwin, (accessed 7 April 2004).