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John Mennons Letters

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 29 Jun 2010

Biographical History

John Mennons (d. 1843) was a Scottish printer in the town of Greenock, and publisher of the Greenock Advertiser. In 1821 or thereabouts he ventured into book publishing, and began corresponding with James Lawson of New York regarding the inclusion of American authors in his Literary Coronal anthologies of prose and verse. His father, also John Mennons (1747-1818), was a printer and publisher in Edinburgh and later in Glasgow.

James Lawson (1799-) was born in Scotland but came to New York in 1815 to join the counting-house of his maternal uncle. Although not an author or publisher himself, Lawson was a devotee of American letters and was personal friends with many authors of his day. He evidently supplied Mennons with both content and materials for some of his publications. In 1826 Lawson began writing articles and criticism, first for the New York Literary Gazette and later novels and a play; he eventually later entered into publishing as well.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Mennons Letters consists of eleven letters from printer and publisher John Mennons of Greenock, Scotland, to James Lawson of New York, regarding Mennon's publication of American literature in Scotland. The letters date from Mennon's initial ventures in this area (according to numerous local and regional histories, Mennons published the first book in Greenock in 1821), and discuss such topics as the publication of various American authors, requests for printing supplies, suggestions for content to be included, work with engravers for illustrations, and so on. Mennon evidently sent copies of his published works to Lawson, though none of these are included in the collection.

The first letter begins, "Although it may be akin to sending coals to Newcastle, I cannot resist the opportunity of Capt. Russel's sailing for New York to exhibit the progress I have made in the republication of American literature by sending you a copy of "Fanny" which is just finished. "

Arrangement of the Collection



Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The general (circulating) collection has several of Lawson's works on microform, and several editions of the Glasgow Almanac published by John Mennons, Sr. are available online. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate these items.

Subject Headings


Lawson, James, 1799-1880.
Mennons, John, d. 1843.


American literature -- Publishing -- Scotland.
Authors and publishers -- Scotland -- History -- 19th century.
Literature publishing -- Scotland -- History -- 19th century.
Printers -- Scotland.
Publishers and publishing -- Scotland.


Scotland -- Intellectual life -- 19th century.

Genres and Forms



Publishers and publishing.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Mennons Letters,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1967.

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