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Edward Cave, engraving by Edward Scriven after a painting by Francis Kyte c. 1740
The Gentleman's Magazine, May 1759, "By SYLVANUS URBAN, Gent."

Edward Cave (27 February 1691 – 10 January 1754) was an English printer, editor and publisher. In The Gentleman's Magazine he created the first general-interest "magazine" in the modern sense.

The son of a cobbler, Cave was born in Newton near Rugby, Warwickshire and attended the grammar school there, but was expelled after being accused of stealing from the headmaster. He worked at a variety of jobs, including timber merchant, reporter and printer. He conceived the idea of a periodical that would cover every topic the educated public was interested in, from commerce to poetry, and tried to convince several London printers and booksellers to take up the idea. When no one showed any interest, Cave took on the task by himself. The Gentleman's Magazine was launched in 1731 and soon became the most influential and most imitated periodical of its time. It also made Cave wealthy.

Cave was an astute businessman. He devoted all his energy to the magazine, and rarely left its offices at St John's Gate, Clerkenwell. He made use of a large number of contributors, most famously Samuel Johnson, who was always grateful to Cave for having provided his principal employment for many years. Cave himself often contributed pieces to the Magazine under the pen name of Sylvanus Urban.

He also obtained a licence from Lewis Paul for 250 spindles for his patent roller-spinning machine, a precursor of the water frame. In 1742 he bought Marvels Mill at Northampton and converted this to a cotton mill, probably the first water-powered spinning mill in the world. This is apparently profitable, but only modestly so. It closed in (or possibly soon after) 1761.

Cave suffered from gout. He is buried at St. James Church, Clerkenwell.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EDWARD CAVE (1691-1754), English printer, was born at Newton, Warwickshire, on the 27th of February 1691. His father, Joseph Cave, was of good family, but the entail of the family estate being cut off, he was reduced to becoming a cobbler at Rugby. Edward Cave entered the grammar school of that town, but was expelled for robbing the master's hen-roost. After many vicissitudes he became apprentice to a London printer, and after two years was sent to Norwich to conduct a printing house and publish a weekly paper. While still a printer he obtained a place in the post office, and was promoted to be clerk of the franks. He was at this time engaged in supplying London newsletters to various country papers; and his enemies, who had twice summoned him before the House of Commons for breach of privilege, now accused him of opening letters to obtain his news, and he was dismissed the service. With the capital which he had saved, he set up a small printing office at St John's Gate, Clerkenwell, which he carried on under the name of R. Newton. He had long formed a scheme of a magazine "to contain the essays and intelligence which appeared in the two hundred half-sheets which the London press then threw off monthly," and had tried in vain to persuade some publisher to take it up. In 1731 he himself put it into execution, and began the Gentleman's Magazine (see Periodicals), of which he was the editor, under the pseudonym "Sylvanus Urban, Gent." The magazine had a large circulation and brought a fortune to the projector. In 1732 he began to issue reports of the debates in both Houses of Parliament. He commissioned friends to note the speeches, which he published with the initial and final letters of personal names. In 1738 Cave was censured by parliament for printing the king's answer to an address before it had been announced by the speaker. From that time he called his reports the debates of a "parliament in the empire of Lilliput" (see Reporting). To piece together and write out the speeches for this publication was Samuel Johnson's first literary employment. In 1747 Cave was reprimanded for publishing an account of the trial of Lord Lovat, and the reports were discontinued till 1752. He died on the 10th of January 1754. Cave published Dr Johnson's Rambler, and his Irene, London and Life of Savage, and was the subject of a short biography by him.


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Simple English

, May 1759, "By SYLVANUS URBAN, Gent."]] Edward Cave, ( February 27 1691January 10 1754), was an English printer, editor and publisher. In The Gentleman's Magazine he made the first general-interest "magazine".

The son of a cobbler, Cave was born in Newton near Rugby, Warwickshire and attended the grammar school there. Cave was made to leave after it was said he stole from the headmaster. He worked at a number of different jobs, such as selling timber, writing and printing. He came up with the idea of a periodical that would cover every subject the educated public was interested in, from commerce to poetry. He tried to get some London printers and booksellers to take up the idea. When no one showed any interest, Cave took on the job by himself. The Gentleman's Magazine was started in 1731 and soon became the most important and most copied periodical of its time. It also made Cave very rich.

Cave was a smart businessman. He gave all his energy to the magazine, and hardly ever left its offices at St John's Gate, Clerkenwell. He made use of a lot of writers, the most famous was Samuel Johnson, who was always thankful to Cave for having given him his main job for many years. Cave himself often sent in items to the Magazine under the pen name of Sylvanus Urban.

He also got permission from Lewis Paul for 250 spindles for his patent roller-spinning machine, an early model of the water frame. In 1742 he bought Marvels Mill at Northampton and made this into a cotton mill. This was probably the first water-powered spinning mill in the world. This should have made a lot of money, but it did not. It closed about 1761.

Cave suffered from gout. He is buried at St. James Church, Clerkenwell.

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