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The Legacy of Thomas Holloway (1800-1883)

Marketing Pioneer, Victorian Philanthropist and Founder of Royal Holloway

Royal Holloway is named after its visionary founder, Thomas Holloway (1800-1883). Born the son of a Plymouth baker, Holloway came to be described during his lifetime as "one of the wonders of the nineteenth century" and the College was one of his greatest legacies.

Thomas Holloway was the pioneer of mass advertising, the founder of product placement, a driving force behind the establishment of the pharmaceutical industry and a champion of progressive mental health care and women's education. As an entrepreneur he was unequalled, devising a product which could tap into an existing world-wide distribution system and into a popular system of belief about how the body worked, which scientific advances had done little to shift.

Holloway was a household name less than ten years after starting his business, expanding it across the world in another five years, with hoardings at the foot of the Great Pyramid and alongside Niagara Falls, outselling every other medicine in the world. In a world before mass advertising, he spent every penny he could on publicity, reaching the unprecedented vast expenditure of £50,000 per annum by his death in 1883. When Dickens started to serialise ?Dombey & Son", Holloway sent him a cheque for £1000 with the request that he mention Holloway's pills in each episode (Dickens refused).

He dealt so widely and shrewdly in shares that he built a second fortune from his dealings, and fears were expressed upon his death that the sale of his holdings could cause a stock market crash. In the 1870s he had his own bank, and he lent money to France when the Prussians invaded.

The College was opened by Queen Victoria in 1886. When she saw the Founder's Building, she declared that such a palatial structure was fit for royalty - and it was with Queen Victoria's blessing that the College was named Royal Holloway.