Connecting curious minds to advance learning and discovery

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Research Publishing
By: Joyce Lorigan, Wed Feb 20 2019
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Author: Joyce Lorigan

Executive Vice President (EVP) Communications

“We have commenced in a small way. If a large tree grows from this small seed we shall be grateful. “
 
Daniel Macmillan 1818-1896   

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A round oak table was made for the Tobacco Parliaments, into which the signatures of some of the regular attendees were engraved, including that of FT Palgrave.
 

In 1843, two Scottish brothers from humble crofting roots opened a small book shop in London.  This was the start of a publishing success story that is the stuff of Hollywood movies.  Even by modern standards, it is incredible to think that Daniel and Alexander Macmillan, with no formal education, no trust fund and no ‘start up’ grant, went on to build a publishing house that was at the epicentre of the London science, education and literary movement of the day.  I’m sure none of their contemporaries from the tiny Scottish island of Arran could have ever imagined that two of the twelve children born to Duncan and Katherine Macmillan would be regularly hosting the likes of Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Huxley, FT Palgrave and Holman Hunt around their dining room table. Later, these gatherings became known as the ‘tobacco parliaments’, where curious minds were brought together for “talk of Darwin and conundrums with general jollity pleasantly intermixed” with guests etching their signatures on to the table to create a 19th century British oak version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

This was the start of a publishing success story that is the stuff of Hollywood movies.  Even by modern standards, it is incredible to think that Daniel and Alexander Macmillan, with no formal education, no trust fund and no ‘start up’ grant, went on to build a publishing house that was at the epicentre of the London science, education and literary movement of the day.

Yet despite these humble beginnings, the brothers were gifted one important asset.  Their parents instilled in Daniel and Alexander a passion for reading and an enduring belief in the power of education to change lives for the better.  They also had a strong work ethic and became shrewd businessmen having learnt their craft ‘on the job’ in publishing houses in Glasgow and London. They were committed to publishing works that would sell, ambitious enough to export to many new markets and open enough to experiment with new and untested formats. This led to the creation of the first multi-disciplinary science journal in 1869, Nature, which went on to become the most cited journal in the world, and due to celebrate its 150th anniversary next year.  Today, Palgrave Macmillan, the academic humanities and social sciences brand, still bears the brothers’ name as does Macmillan Education the innovative English language teaching, school curriculum and higher education publisher creating materials used in some 120 countries around the world.

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r: Alexander Macmillan, 1818 – 1896, l: Daniel Macmillan, 1813 – 1857

Education still lies at the heart of our ability at Springer Nature to advance learning and discovery – to promote equality and independence, to fuel innovation and progress, to help us make sense of the world around us and to hopefully leave it in a better state than we found it. 

It may be 175 years since the brothers published their first education book, The Philosophy of Training, but education still lies at the heart of our ability at Springer Nature to advance learning and discovery – to promote equality and independence, to fuel innovation and progress, to help us make sense of the world around us and to hopefully leave it in a better state than we found it. 

In fact, the fundamentals of a great education have not changed. It’s still about engaging, relevant and quality content delivered by inspiring teachers who care about getting the best from their students - even if in 2018, we have many more tools and techniques at our disposal to help those teachers succeed. 

I wonder what the Macmillan brothers would have made of the array of digital tools now available to help students and teachers exchange ideas, track and enable progress. As ‘early adopters’ of the science journal, global education materials and the power of connecting curious minds, I think they would have been front and centre of these innovations, leading the way in educational progress.  

Building on their legacy, we at Springer Nature will continue to stay curious, connect ideas, question how things are done, explore new ways to deliver for our communities and then make the changes that matter.

The Macmillan brothers’ story is an enduring one. Building on their legacy, we at Springer Nature will continue to stay curious, connect ideas, question how things are done, explore new ways to deliver for our communities and then make the changes that matter. And just like the brothers 175 years ago, we will continue to push ourselves to do this better than anyone else.

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Author: Joyce Lorigan

Executive Vice President (EVP) Communications

A history graduate from the University of Leeds, Joyce Lorigan has spent more than 25 years in communications.  Recent London-based roles include VP Global Communications of FTSE 100 company Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG plc) and VP Corporate Communications for the Walt Disney group of companies in EMEA. Joyce also spent three years as Director of Alliance Marketing for EuroDisney SCA based in Paris. She joined Macmillan Science and Education as Global Communications Director in 2012 and became EVP Communications for Springer Nature following the merger in 2015.  Joyce chaired the Board of London-based business partnership Urban Partners from 2014-2017.

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