George Mackenzie Brown

Arthur Conan Doyle Edinburgh Central (UK Parliament constituency) Upper Canada College

George Mackenzie Brown

George Mackenzie Brown (1869 – 14 July 1946) was a Canadian-born Scottish publisher who also followed a political career. As a publisher, he produced Arthur Conan Doyle's books; as a politician, he beat him to win election to the House of Commons.

Canadian origins

Brown was born in Toronto, the son of newspaper publisher Hon. George Brown who was Liberal Party Member of Parliament for Ontario South and a Father of Canadian Confederation. He was sent to the leading private school Upper Canada College, and then back to his father's native Scotland to Merchiston Castle School from where he won entry into King's College, Cambridge.[1]

Business life

On leaving Cambridge, Brown became managing trustee of Thomas Nelson and Sons, an Edinburgh-based publisher; as a publisher he was following in his father's profession. One of Nelson's most popular authors was Dr Arthur Conan Doyle. In 1901 Brown married Mary Nelson, daughter of the founder of the firm.

Political career

When William McEwan announced his retirement as Liberal Member of Parliament for Edinburgh Central, Brown was chosen to fight the seat.[2] The Unionists did not choose their candidate for the seat until much closer to the election, but when they did, Brown found himself opposed by Dr Conan Doyle, standing as a Liberal Unionist.[3] Conan Doyle did better than any previous Unionist candidate in the constituency, but Brown was elected by a majority of 569 votes.


Brown was regarded as unknown by the political world when elected.[4] On 16 October 1901 he introduced to H. H. Asquith a deputation from the Scottish Temperance Legislation Board, who were campaigning for a change in the law to prohibit the sale of alcoholic liquor.[5] He also pressed for more underground telegraphy lines between England and Scotland to aid communication.[6]


In the autumn of 1902 Brown announced that he would not seek re-election at the next general election [7] That October he voted for an Irish Parliamentary Party motion condemning the imprisonment of Irish MPs who were campaigning for the United Irish League and land reform.[8] He also joined the council of the Free Trade Union when it was set up in response to the demand for Tariff Reform in 1903.

After the end of his political career, Brown moved to Taynuilt in Argyll.


  1. ^ "Brown, George Mackenzie (BRWN886GM)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ "Scotland And The Coming Election", The Times, 17 August 1900, p. 6.
  3. ^ "Scotland", The Times, 25 September 1900, p. 8.
  4. ^ The Pall Mall Gazette guide to the House of Commons remarked (p. 64) that, apart from beating "the popular favourite", he "does not seem to be otherwise known to fame". The Pall Mall Gazette was a Liberal paper.
  5. ^ "Mr. Asquith In Edinburgh", The Times, 17 October 1901, p. 9.
  6. ^ "The Postmaster-General And Underground Telegraph Wires", The Times, 8 March 1902, p. 5.
  7. ^ "Scottish Liberals And Home Rule", The Times, 6 October 1902, p. 6.
  8. ^ "Political Notes", The Times, 29 October 1902, p. 8.