Dr Andrew Nash
Maximum: 15 Students
Venue: Senate House


This course offers a unique opportunity for students of book history, literary studies and related disciplines to experience at first hand surviving archives of the British book trade. Using the unparalleled resources available in libraries in London and Reading, students will work with a wide range of documentary evidence to explore the internal workings of a publishing house and understand the entirety of the publishing process from the submission or commissioning of manuscripts to the distribution and retail of published products. Although the importance of publishers’ records as business archives and as a source for economic history will be explored, the main focus will be on what publishers’ archives can tell us about the publishing process and how they can influence our understanding of literary and cultural history as well as the history of books and publishing. Collections to be explored will include: Macmillan, Bentley, Longman, Allen & Unwin, Frederick Warne, A & C Black, Chatto & Windus, Hogarth Press, Mills & Boon, Ladybird.



  • To introduce students to some of the common characteristics of publishers’ archives and to understand how to locate and access material
  • To learn about the internal workings of the publishing process through examination of documents held in publishers’ archives
  • To discover what archival sources can tell us about the practice of authorship and author/publisher relations, and the workings of the printing, publishing and bookselling industries across the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.
  • To learn about the history and organisation of book trade archives in the UK and related matters of ownership, access, copyright, and digital preservation
  • To provide the student with the opportunity to examine and work with first-hand evidence through extensive teaching and research in archival collections in London and Reading

Background Reading

Briggs, Asa A History of Longmans and their Books, 1724-1990: Longevity in Publishing (British Library/Oak Knoll Press, 2008).

Gettmann, R. A., A Victorian Publisher: A Study of the Bentley Papers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960).

James, Elizabeth (ed.) Macmillan: a Publishing Tradition (Basingstoke & New York: Palgrave, 2002).

McAleer, Joseph Passion’s Fortune: the Story of Mills & Boon (Oxford, 1999).

Unwin, Stanley The Truth About Publishing (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1926).