James Campbell Reddie

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
Jump to: navigation, search

James Campbell Reddie (November 26, 1807 – July 4, 1878) was a 19th-century collector and author of pornography who worked for the publisher William Dugdale, also writing as "James Campbell". According to Henry Spencer Ashbee he was self-taught and viewed his works from a philosophical point of view.

Ancestry and family

The information in this section is gleaned from original birth, marriage and death records and last will and testaments [1]

James Campbell Reddie was born November 26, 1807 in Glasgow, Scotland; the third of eight children born to James Reddie (1775–1853) and Charlotte Marion Campbell (1782–1841).

James, Sr. was the son of John Reddie (1727–1805), a merchant in Dysart, Fife, Scotland, and May Burd (1744–1815). John and May married Oct. 26, 1766 in Tannadice, Scotland. James became the first town clerk of Glasgow about 1820, and later the town magistrate and advocate in Edinburgh.[2] He married Charlotte Campbell on August 12, 1805 in Glasgow. Charlotte was the daughter of James Campbell (c. 1735–1800) and Marion Muirhead (1739–1815). James and Marion married Aug. 30, 1763 in Govan, Scotland.

It appears James Reddie, Sr. and his son were estranged from the time James Campbell was a young adult until the death of his father on May 5, 1853; a father who didn't even know if his son was alive or not. He left the bulk of his estate to his daughter, Charlotte, who took care of her father during the last years of his life. Although, he did leave his son "the splendid Works of Voltaire in 72 volumes". The following is an excerpt from James, Sr.'s will in regards to his son:

My second son James after his Professional Education Apprentice fee he received but little from me. Several of my plans for promoting and extending his business failed and as requested I had to give him a large Cash Credit with the Royal Bank - But being Cautioner for him to the Royal Bank to the extent of Two thousand Pounds and Interest. I have since he left us in the summer of 1845 had to pay to that bank for him in interim payments Four hundred pounds and upward of Two hundred and fifty pounds so as to reduce the Balance due to One Thousand six hundred Pounds for which I have assigned in security and payment of One thousand six hundred Pounds my life Policy with the Provident Office London worth at my death upwards of One thousand six hundred and forty Pounds - James therefore if alive has nothing to receive at my death.

James himself never married or had any children that we know of. Some erotica scholars have speculated through the years that he may have been homosexual or bi-sexual, but so far no proof has been found to support this information.


Writer to the Signet

James was known by his full legal name in Edinburgh, Scotland where he worked as a Writer to the Signet; beginning his apprenticeship under David Cleghorn on December 10, 1829.[3] He continued in this profession until he relocated to England in 1849; where he took the name James Campbell...dropping his father's surname in favor of his mother's.

Writer and translator

The first appearance of a James Campbell in England is in the 1851 England Census record, where he is shown living at 32 White Hart Street in Westminster; employed as a compositor (typesetter).[4] The 1861 census shows him again as a lodger at 24 Manor-terrace in Newington, London; employed as a writer and translator.[5] In 1871 he is living with the Adamo Pedroletti family at 44 Brecknock Rd. in Islington, London, England; and later at 26 Brecknock Crescent in 1875.[6]

James, however, is best known as an author and translator of erotica. Many of the original texts and translations of erotic literature published by William Lazenby and William Dugdale were the work of James Campbell. One of the earliest publications utilizing Campbell (still in Scotland at the time) was Dugdale's risqué newspaper The Exquisite. Published from 1842 to 1844, The Exquisite contained "...a great number of tales from the French, with a few from the Italian, translated for the most part, if not entirely, by James Campbell..."[7]

According to Henry Spencer Ashbee, James was a serious, exacting collector and bibliographer of erotica. When he acquired a new book he would immediately collate it, confront every available authority on it, and compare the book page by page, word by word with any other issue of the same work. If he was unable to acquire a scarce book, he frequently made copies by hand. He never refused to lend a book from his vast collection, even though often the borrower would forget to return it. He was always liberal with his knowledge of erotica, imparting information gave him great satisfaction, and he spared neither time and labor in his research.[8]


In April 1877, Campbell decided to leave England and return to Scotland due to ill health. On July 25, 1877, shortly before his departure, Campbell sold his collection of erotica to Henry Spencer Ashbee for £300 ($32,478.38 US). He also bestowed to Ashbee his three volume manuscript Bibliographical Notes on Books, which was an invaluable resource for Ashbee in preparing the second and third volumes of his Bibliography of Prohibited Books (vol.1: 1877, vol.2: 1879, vol.3: 1885).[9]

On July 4, 1878, in Crieff, Perth, Scotland, James Campbell Reddie died from a "general or wasting palsy" (a progressive muscle degeneration and weakness, eventually leading to death), diagnosed 1 year and 3 months earlier.[10]


His books include The Amatory Experiences of a Surgeon (1881), The Sins of the Cities of the Plain (1881, with Simeon Solomon)[11][12] and The Mysteries of Verbena House (1882, with George Augustus Sala).


  1. "ScotlandsPeople".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2.  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FReddie%2C_James_%28DNB00%29 "Reddie, James" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Dictionary of National Biography. 47. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 369–370.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Society of Writers to H.M. Signet. A History of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet. Printed for the Society at the University Press, 1890.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "1851 England Census".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "1861 England Census".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "1871 England Census".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Mendes, Peter. Clandestine Erotic Fiction in English 1800-1930. Scolar Press, 1993. ISBN 0-85967-919-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Ashbee, Henry Spencer. Bibliography of Prohibited Books. Jack Brussel, 1962.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Gibson, Ian. (2001). The Erotomaniac. Da Capro Press. ISBN 0-306-81064-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "ScotlandsPeople (death records)".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Cook, Matt (2003). London and the culture of homosexuality, 1885-1914. Cambridge studies in nineteenth-century literature and culture. 39. Cambridge University Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-521-82207-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Ditmore, Melissa Hope (2006). Encyclopedia of prostitution and sex work, Volume 2. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 443. ISBN 0-313-32970-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • The Erotica Bibliophile "Biographical Sketch of James Campbell Reddie".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Ashbee, Henry Spencer (1885). Catena Librorum Tacendorum: being Notes Bio- Icono- graphical and Critical, on Curious and Uncommon Books. London: privately printed. p. xlviii.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Marcus, Stephen (2008). The Other Victorians: a study of sexuality and pornography in mid-nineteenth-Century England. Transaction Publishers. p. 235. ISBN 1-4128-0819-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Sutherland, John (1990). The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford University Press. p. 103. ISBN 0-8047-1842-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Green, Jonathon; Karolides, Nicholas J. (2005). The encyclopedia of censorship. Facts on File library of world history. Infobase Publishing. p. 88. ISBN 0-8160-4464-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>