Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Search Term: "history of Oxford University Press"

Book thumbnail image

A brief history of Oxford University Press in pictures

Oxford University has been involved with the printing trade since the 15th century and our Archive holds the records of the University’s printing and publishing activities from the 17th century to date. This week our archivists have generously unearthed some pictures to share with you.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

New perspectives on the history of publishing

There is a subtle shift occurring in the examination of the history of the book and publishing. Historians are moving away from a history of individuals towards a new perspective grounded in social and corporate history. From A History of Cambridge University Press to The Stationers’ Company: A History to the new History of Oxford University Press, the development of material texts is set in a new context of institutions.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

A conversation with Craig Panner, Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books

Few fields develop as rapidly as medicine, with new breakthroughs in research, tools, and techniques happening everyday. This presents an interesting challenge for many medical publishers — trying to get the latest information to students, practitioners, and researchers as quickly and accurately as possible. So we are delighted to present a Q&A with Associate Editorial Director of Medicine Books, Craig Panner.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

How much could 19th century nonfiction authors earn?

By Simon Eliot and John Feather
In the 1860s, the introduction of its first named series of education books, the ‘Clarendon Press Series’ (CPS), encouraged the Press to standardize its payments to authors. Most of them were offered a very generous deal: 50 or 60% of net profits. These payments were made annually and were recorded in the minutes of the Press’ newly-established Finance Committee. The list of payments lengthened every year, as new titles were published and very few were ever allowed to go out of print.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The Press stands firm against the French Revolution and Napoleon

By Simon Eliot
With the French Revolution creating a wave of exiles the Press responded with a very uncharacteristic publication. This was a ‘Latin Testament of the Vulgate Translation’ for emigrant French clergy living in England after the Revolution. In 1796, the Learned (not the Bible) side of the Press issued Novum Testamentum Vulgatae Editionis: Juxta Exemplum Parisiis Editum apud Fratres Barbou.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

What price books?

By Simon Eliot
For most readers at most times, books were not essential. They were to be bought, if they were to be bought at all, out of disposable income. For most families in the nineteenth century, if they were lucky enough to have any disposable income, it would be a matter of two (10p) or three shillings (15p) a week at best.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Oxford University Press faces up to the Nazis

By Simon Eliot
Ever since the end of the First World War Oxford University Press had been keen to re-establish some sort of presence in the German book trade. Germany had been a significant market for its academic books in the nineteenth century, and a number of German scholars had edited Greek and Roman texts for the Press. Nevertheless the depressed state of the German economy and the uncertainty of its currency had made this impossible in the first few years after 1918.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Letters, telegrams, steam, and speed

By Simon Eliot
Oxford was finally linked to the rail network in June 1844. Within a decade or so the railway had become part of the way in which Oxford University Press at all levels conducted its business and its pleasure. One such pleasure was a wayzgoose.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Half the cost of a book

Simon Eliot
For most of the history of the printed book, from Gutenberg in 1455 onwards, the most expensive part of the material book was paper. Until the mid-nineteenth century, by which time paper was being made by steam-driven machines using esparto grass and wood pulp rather than traditional linen rag as raw material, paper commonly represented at least half the cost of a book’s production.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Damp paper and difficult conditions

By Simon Eliot
Oxford University was a large mass-producer of books by the 1820s. Despite this, it was still occupying a very elegant but modest-sized neo-classical building in the centre of Oxford designed for it in 1713 by Nicholas Hawksmoor. By the mid-1820s this building was bursting at the seams.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Printing and the heat death of the universe

By Simon Eliot
In 1901 it was calculated that Oxford University Press took in more than twice the tonnage of material that it sent out, much of the difference being accounted for by coal and machinery. The efficiency of coal was not a new concern in the printing industry. In 1880, Edward Pickard Hall, then responsible for printing Bibles at the Press, had compiled a list of the ‘Evaporative power of Different Coals’ in a notebook and had concluded that ‘Nixon’s Steam Navigation’ at 13.45 was distinctly more efficient than ‘Wyekam’ coal at 11.42.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Are we there yet?

By Elizabeth Knowles
Dictionary projects can famously, and sometimes fatally, overrun. In the nineteenth century especially, dictionaries for the more recondite foreign languages of past and present (from Coptic to Sanskrit) were compiled by independent scholars, enthusiasts who were ready to dedicate their lives to a particular project.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

What was inside the first Canadian branch building?

By Thorin Tritter
I wrote before about the picture that serves as the cover for the chapter on Canada, Australia, and New Zealand in Volume 3 of the newly published History of Oxford University Press. I personally enjoy looking at this type of picture and trying to imagine what went on inside.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Top OUPblog posts of 2013: Editor’s picks

By Alice Northover
As editor of the OUPblog, I’m probably one of only a handful who read everything we publish over the course of the year. Even those posts which are coded and edited by our Deputy Editors I carefully read through in the hopes of catching any errors (some always make it through). So it’s wonderful to reflect on the amazing work that our authors, editors, and staff have created in 2013. Without further ado, here are a few of my favorites from the past year…

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Looking for clues about OUP Canada in an early photograph

By Thorin Tritter
I had the pleasure of writing the chapter about Oxford University Press’s early operations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand for volume three of the new History of Oxford University Press. A photo editor added an early photograph of the first home to the Canadian branch as the cover image for my chapter. It is a photograph I have seen before, but to be honest, I had previously not looked at it very closely.

Read More