Oxford University Press
|No. of employees||6,000|
Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford. It is the largest university press in the world, and its printing history dates back to the 1480s. Having been officially granted the legal right to print books by decree in 1586, it is the second oldest university press after Cambridge University Press.
It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics known as the Delegates of the Press, who are appointed by the
For the last 500 years, OUP has primarily focused on the publication of pedagogical texts and continues this tradition today by publishing academic journals, dictionaries, English language resources, bibliographies, books on indology, music, classics, literature, history, as well as bibles and atlases.
OUP has offices throughout the world, primarily in locations that were once part of the British Empire (mainly India and the United States).
The University of Oxford began printing around 1480 and grew into a major printer of bibles, prayer books, and scholarly works.
Generally speaking, the early 18th century marked a lull in the press's expansion. It suffered from the absence of any figure comparable to Fell. The business was rescued by the intervention of a single Delegate,
By the late 18th century, the press had become more focused. In 1825 the Delegates bought land in Walton Street. Buildings were constructed from plans drawn up by Daniel Robertson and Edward Blore, and the press moved into them in 1830. This site remains the main office of OUP in the 21st century, at the corner of Walton Street and Great Clarendon Street, northwest of Oxford city centre.
The press now entered an era of enormous change. In 1830, it was still a joint-stock printing business in an academic backwater, offering learned works to a relatively small readership of scholars and clerics  At this time, Thomas Combe joined the press and became the university's Printer until his death in 1872. Combe was a better business man than most Delegates, but still no innovator: he failed to grasp the huge commercial potential of India paper, which grew into one of Oxford's most profitable trade secrets in later years. Even so, Combe earned a fortune through his shares in the business and the acquisition and renovation of the bankrupt paper mill at Wolvercote. Combe showed little interest, however, in producing fine printed work at the press. The most well-known text associated with his print shop was the flawed first edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, printed by Oxford at the expense of its author Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) in 1865.
It took the 1850
Equally, Price moved OUP towards publishing in its own right. The press had ended its relationship with Parker's in 1863 and in 1870 bought a small London bindery for some Bible work. Macmillan's contract ended in 1880, and wasn't renewed. By this time, Oxford also had a London warehouse for Bible stock in Paternoster Row, and in 1880 its manager Henry Frowde (1841–1927) was given the formal title of Publisher to the university. Frowde came from the book trade, not the university, and remained an enigma to many. One obituary in Oxford's staff magazine The Clarendonian admitted, "Very few of us here in Oxford had any personal knowledge of him." Despite that, Frowde became vital to OUP's growth, adding new lines of books to the business, presiding over the massive publication of the Revised Version of the New Testament in 1881 and playing a key role in setting up the press's first office outside Britain, in New York City in 1896.
Price transformed OUP. In 1884, the year he retired as Secretary, the Delegates bought back the last shares in the business. The press was now owned wholly by the university, with its own paper mill, print shop, bindery, and warehouse. Its output had increased to include school books and modern scholarly texts such as James Clerk Maxwell's A Treatise on Electricity & Magnetism (1873), which proved fundamental to Einstein's thought. Simply put, without abandoning its traditions or quality of work, Price began to turn OUP into an alert, modern publisher. In 1879, he also took on the publication that led that process to its conclusion: the huge project that became the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).
Offered to Oxford by James Murray and the Philological Society, the "New English Dictionary" was a grand academic and patriotic undertaking. Lengthy negotiations led to a formal contract. Murray was to edit a work estimated to take 10 years and to cost approximately £9,000. Both figures were wildly optimistic. The Dictionary began to appear in print in 1884, but the first edition was not completed until 1928, 13 years after Murray's death, at a cost of around £375,000. This vast financial burden and its implications landed on Price's successors.
The next Secretary, Philip Lyttelton Gell, was appointed by the Vice-Chancellor Benjamin Jowett in 1884 but struggled and was finally dismissed in 1897. The Assistant Secretary, Charles Cannan, took over with little fuss and even less affection for his predecessor: "Gell was always here, but I cannot make out what he did." Charles Cannan, who had been instrumental in Gell's removal, succeeded Gell in 1898.
By the early 20th century OUP expanded its overseas trade, in part due to the efforts of
In 1923 OUP established a Music Department. At the time, such musical publishing enterprises, however, were rare. and few of the Delegates or former Publishers were themselves musical or had extensive music backgrounds. OUP bought an Anglo-French Music Company and all its facilities, connections, and resources. This concentration provided OUP two mutually reinforcing benefits: a niche in music publishing unoccupied by potential competitors, and a branch of music performance and composition that the English themselves had largely neglected. Hinnells proposes that the early Music Department's "mixture of scholarship and cultural nationalism" in an area of music with largely unknown commercial prospects was driven by its sense of cultural philanthropy (given the press's academic background) and a desire to promote "national music outside the German mainstream." It was not until 1939 that the Music Department showed its first profitable year.
The period following World War II saw consolidation in the face of the breakup of the Empire and the post-war reorganization of the Commonwealth.
In the 1960s OUP Southern Africa started publishing local authors, for the general reader, but also for schools and universities, under its
In the years 1927-1934 Oxford University Press, Inc., New York was reorganised by Geoffrey Cumberlege to bring it back to profitability after the Depression years (in 1945-1956 he would succeed Milford as publisher to the University of Oxford). Today the North American branch in New York City is primarily a distribution branch to facilitate the sale of Oxford Bibles in the United States. It also handles marketing of all books of its parent, Macmillan. By the end of 2021, OUP USA has published eighteen Pulitzer Prize–winning books.
Operations in South Asia and East and South East Asia were and, in the case of the former, remain major parts of the company.
In July 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic its Bookshop on the High Street closed.
On 27 August 2021, OUP closed Oxuniprint, its printing division. The closure will mark the "final chapter" of OUP's centuries-long history of printing.
The Oxford University Press Museum is located on
OUP came to be known as "(The) Clarendon Press" when printing moved from the Sheldonian Theatre to the Clarendon Building in Broad Street in 1713. The name continued to be used when OUP moved to its present site in Oxford in 1830. The label "Clarendon Press" took on a new meaning when OUP began publishing books through its London office in the early 20th century. To distinguish the two offices, London books were labelled "Oxford University Press" publications, while those from Oxford were labelled "Clarendon Press" books. This labelling ceased in the 1970s, when the London office of OUP closed. Today, OUP reserves "Clarendon Press" as an imprint for Oxford publications of particular academic importance.
OUP as Oxford Journals has also been a major publisher of
Series and titles
Oxford University Press publishes a variety of
Since 2001, Oxford University Press has financially supported the
Tehran Book Fair Controversy
In February 1989, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa urging the execution of British author Salman Rushdie, and of all involved in the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie went into hiding, and there began an international movement to boycott book trading with Iran. There was therefore outrage when in April 1989 OUP broke the world-wide embargo and chose to attend the Tehran Book Fair. OUP justified this with the statement that "We deliberated about it quite deeply but felt it certainly wasn't in our interests, or Iran's as a whole, to stay away." The New York Times, International Herald Tribune and the Sunday Times all condemned Oxford's decision.
Malcolm vs Oxford University 1986-1992
In 1990 in the UK Court of Appeal author Andrew Malcolm won a landmark legal judgment against Oxford University (Press) for its breach of a contract to publish his philosophical text Making Names. Reporting on the verdict in The Observer, Laurence Marks wrote, "It is the first time in living memory that Grub Street has won such a victory over its oppressors". The Appeal Court judges were highly critical of Oxford's conduct of the affair and of the litigation. Lord Justice Mustill declared "The Press is one of the longest-established publishing houses in the United Kingdom, and no doubt in the world. They must have been aware from the outset that the absence of agreement on the matters in question [the book's print-run and format] was not, in the trade, regarded as preventing a formal agreement from coming into existence. Candour would, I believe, have required that this should have been made clear to the judge and ourselves, rather than a determined refusal to let the true position come to light... This is not quite all. I do not know whether an outsider studying the history of this transaction and of this litigation would feel that, in his self-financed struggle with the assembled Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford the appellant has had a fair crack of the whip. I certainly do not... Mr Charkin took the decision [to renege on the OUP editor's contract], not because he thought the book was no good - he had never seen it and the reports were favourable - but because he thought it would not sell. Let there be no mistake about it, the failure of this transaction was about money, not prestige. Nor does the course of the litigation give any reason to suppose that the Press had any interest but to resist the claim, no matter on what grounds, so long as they succeeded." Lord Justice Leggatt added: "It is difficult to know what the Deputy Judge (Lightman) meant by a 'firm commitment' other than an intention to create legal relations. Nothing short of that would have had any value whatever for Mr Malcolm... To suggest that Mr Hardy intended to induce Mr Malcolm to revise the book by giving him a valueless assurance would be tantamount to an imputation of fraud... It follows that in my judgment when Mr Hardy used the expressions 'commitment' and 'a fair royalty' he did in fact mean what he said; and I venture to think that it would take a lawyer to arrive at any other conclusion. There was therefore an enforceable contract for the publication of Mr Malcolm's book... The Respondents' final statement may be thought unworthy of them."
The case ended in July 1992 with a Tomlin order, a damages settlement under the terms of which the servants and agents of Oxford University are permanently barred from denigrating Malcolm or Making Names, rendering it the first book in literary history to be afforded such legal protection. The case was reported to have cost Oxford over £500,000.
Closure of Poetry List
In November 1998, the OUP announced the closure, on commercial grounds, of its modern poetry list. Andrew Potter, OUP's director of music, trade paperbacks and Bibles, told The Times that the list "just about breaks even. The university expects us to operate on commercial grounds, especially in this day and age." In the same article, the poet D. J. Enright, who had been with OUP since 1979 said, "There was no warning. It was presented as a fait accompli. Even the poetry editor didn't know....The money involved is peanuts. It's a good list, built up over many years." In February 1999, Arts Minister Alan Howarth made a speech in Oxford in which he denounced the closure: "OUP is not merely a business. It is a department of the University of Oxford and has charitable status. It is part of a great university, which the Government supports financially and which exists to develop and transmit our intellectual culture....It is a perennial complaint by the English faculty that the barbarians are at the gate. Indeed they always are. But we don't expect the gatekeepers themselves, the custodians, to be barbarians." Oxford's professor Valentine Cunningham wrote in the Times Higher Education Supplement: "Increasingly, (OUP) has behaved largely like a commercial outfit, with pound signs in its eyes and a readiness to dumb down for the sake of popularity and sales....Sacking poets not because they lose money but because they do not make enough of it: it is an allegory of a university press missing the point, mistaking its prime purpose." In March 1999 The Times Literary Supplement commissioned Andrew Malcolm to write an article under the strapline "Why the present constitution of the OUP cannot work". A decade later, OUP's managing director, Ivon Asquith, reflected on the public relations damage caused by the episode: "If I had foreseen the self-inflicted wound we would suffer I would not have let the proposal get as far as the Finance Committee."
Tax Exemption Controversy
Since the 1940s, both OUP and the Cambridge University Press (CUP), had made applications to the Inland Revenue for exemption from corporate tax. The first application, by CUP in 1940, was refused "on the ground that, since the Press was printing and publishing for the outside world and not simply for the internal use of the University, the Press's trade went beyond the purpose and objects of the University and (in terms of the Act) was not exercised in the course of the actual carrying out of a primary purpose of the University." Similar applications by OUP in 1944 and 1950 were also rejected by the Inland Revenue, whose officers repeatedly pointed out that the university presses were in open competition with commercial, tax-liable publishers. In November 1975 CUP's chief executive Geoffrey Cass again applied to the Inland Revenue, and a year later CUP's tax-exemption was quietly conceded. OUP's Chief Executive George Richardson followed suit in 1977 and OUP's tax-exemption was granted in 1978. The decisions were not made public. The issue was only brought to public attention as a result of press interest in OUP, following the poetry list closure controversy. In 1999, the campaigner Andrew Malcolm published his second book The Remedy, in which he alleged that OUP is in breach of its 1978 tax-exemption conditions. This was reported in a front-page article in The Oxford Times, along with OUP's response.
In March 2001, after a 28-year battle with the Indian tax authorities, OUP lost its tax exemption in India. The Supreme Court ruled that OUP was not tax exempt in the subcontinent "because it does not carry out any university activities there but acts simply as a commercial publisher". In order to pay off back taxes, owed since the 1970s, OUP was obliged to sell its Mumbai headquarters building, Oxford House. The Bookseller reported that "The case has again raised questions about OUP's status in the UK". In 2003, Joel Rickett of The Bookseller wrote an article in The Guardian describing the resentment of commercial rivals at OUP's tax exemption. Rickett accurately predicted that the funds which would have been paid in tax were "likely to be used to confirm OUP's dominance by buying up other publishers."(Between 1989 and 2018, OUP bought out over 70 rival book and journal publishers). In 2007, with the new 'public benefit' requirement of the revised Charities Act, the issue was re-examined  with particular reference to the OUP. In 2008, CUP's and OUP's privilege was attacked by rival publishers. In 2009 The Guardian invited Andrew Malcolm to write an article on the subject.
East African Bribery Scandal
In July 2012, the UK's Serious Fraud Office found OUP's branches in Kenya and Tanzania guilty of bribery to obtain school bookselling contracts sponsored by the World Bank. Oxford was fined £1.9 million "in recognition of sums it received which were generated through unlawful conduct" and barred from applying for World Bank-financed projects for three years.
- Category:Oxford University Press academic journals
- List of Oxford University Press journals
- Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford
- List of largest UK book publishers
- Cambridge University Press v. Patton, a copyright infringement suit in which OUP is a plaintiff
- Harvard University Press
- University of Chicago Press
- Edinburgh University Press
- Express Publishing
- Blavatnik School of Government (opened in 2015), opposite the OUP on Walton Street
- ^ "Secretaries to the Delegates of the Press (1868–present)". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
- ^ "A Short History of Oxford University Press". Oxford University Press. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
- ^ Balter, Michael (16 February 1994). "400 Years Later, Oxford Press Thrives". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2011.
- ^ "About Oxford University Press". OUP Academic. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- ^ "A Brief History of the Press". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 3 August 2018.
- ^ Carter p. 137
- ^ Carter, passim
- ^ Sutcliffe p. xiv
- ^ Carter ch. 3
- ^ Barker p. 11
- ^ Carter ch. 5
- ^ Barker p. 22
- ^ Carter p. 63
- ^ I.G. Phillip, William Blackstone and the Reform of the Oxford University Press (Oxford, 1957) pp. 45–72
- ^ Carter, ch. 21
- ^ Barker p. 41. Sutcliffe pp. 4–5
- ^ Sutcliffe, pp. 1–2, 12
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 39–40, 110–111
- ^ Sutcliffe p. 6
- ^ Sutcliffe p. 36
- ^ Barker pp. 45–47
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 19–26
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 45–46
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 16, 19. 37
- ^ The Clarendonian, 4, no. 32, 1927, p. 47
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 48–53
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 89–91
- ^ Sutcliffe p. 64
- ^ Barker p. 48
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 53–58
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 56–57
- The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary(Oxford, 2003)
- ^ Sutcliffe pp. 98–107
- ^ Sutcliffe p. 66
- ^ Milford's Letterbooks
- ^ a b Sutcliffe p. 211
- ^ Sutcliffe p. 210
- ^ Hinnells p. 8
- ^ Sutcliffe p. 212
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, sl.nsw.gov.au. Retrieved 3 March 2023.
- ^ "OUP Major Book Awards". OUP Academic. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 February 2022.
- ^ Flood, Alison (9 June 2021). "Oxford University Press to end centuries of tradition by closing its printing arm". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
- ^ "Oxford University Press website, Archives".
- ^ "Oxford Journals". OUP. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
- ^ "Optional Open Access Experiment". Journal of Experimental Botany. Oxford Journals. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- ^ "Oxford Open". Oxford Journals. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
- ^ Open Access Scholarly Publishing Association Members
- ^ "About". Oxfordbibliographies.com.
- ^ "History of the Clarendon Fund". University of Oxford. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
- ^ quoted in "Such principled publishers", an article in The Bookseller, 5 May 1989
- ^ 'Books for the Mullahs', The New York Times, 27th April 1989
- ^ Norman Lebrecht and Ian Birrell, 'Anger over Iran book fair visits', The Sunday Times, 7th May 1989
- ^ Laurence Marks, 'A builder's dialogue that silenced OUP', The Observer, 23 December 1990
- ^ a b Court of Appeal judgement and order, 18 December 1990, CHF0480/90
- ^ Phil Baty, 'Whistleblowers', The Times Higher Education Supplement, 22 February 2002 '
- ^ Phil Baty, 'Whistleblowers', THES article on the akmedea website '
- ^ "Malcolm v Oxford: settlement agreement 1/7/92". www.akmedea.com.
- ^ Books and Bookmen column, Private Eye, 15 January 1993
- ^ a b Dalya Alberge, 'Anger over Dead Poets Society', The Times, 21st November 1998
- ^ Dan Glaister, 'Minister steps into Oxford poetry list row', The Guardian, 4 February 1999
- ^ a b 'Mammon's Imprint', The Times Higher Education Supplement, 12 February 1999
- ^ Andrew Malcom, 'Don't go to Jericho: Why the present constitution of the OUP cannot work', Times Literary Supplement, 2 April 1999
- ^ Ivon Asquith letter to Roy Foster, quoted by Foster in 'The Poetry Question', Keith Robbins (ed), The History of Oxford University Press, Vol IV, OUP, 2017, p478
- ^ M.H. Black, Cambridge University Press 1584-1984, CUP, 1984,p267
- ^ G Bridden, letter to Geoffrey Cass, 9 November 1976
- ^ M.H. Black, Cambridge University Press 1584-1984, CUP, 1984,p282
- ^ Reg Little, 'OUP denies it has breached Charity rules', The Oxford Times, 5 November 1999
- ^ Maggie Hartford 'A Message from India', The Oxford Times, 30 March 2001
- ^ The Bookseller Editorial team, 'OUP India forced to pay back tax', The Bookseller, 1 June 2001
- ^ Joel Rickett, 'latest news from the world of publishing', The Guardian, 30 August 2003
- ^ Jessica Shepherd, 'Freedom of the presses', the Guardian, 17 April 2007
- ^ Tom Tivnan, 'Charities review could hit publishers', The Bookseller, 2007
- ^ Philip Jones,'Rivals attack OUP and CUP', The Bookseller, 24 April 2008
- ^ Chris Koenig, 'OUP status attacked', Oxford Mail, 16 May 2008
- ^ Andrew Malcolm, 'The Oxford presses aren't charities but are given unfair tax breaks', The Guardian, 15 April 2009
- ^ Jeevan Vasagar, 'Oxford University Press fined £1.9m over bribery by African subsidiary firms', The Guardian, 3 July 2012
- Barker, Nicolas (1978). The Oxford University Press and the Spread of Learning. Oxford.
- OCLC 955872307.
- ISBN 978-0-19-567474-3.
- Hinnells, Duncan (1998). An Extraordinary Performance: Hubert Foss and the Early Years of Music Publishing at the Oxford University Press. Oxford: OUP. ISBN 978-0-19-323200-6.
- Oxford Music: The First Fifty Years '23−'73. London: Oxford University Press Music Department. 1973.
- Sutcliffe, Peter (1978). The Oxford University Press: An Informal History. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-951084-9.
- Sutcliffe, Peter (1972). An Informal History of the OUP. Oxford: OUP.
- Gadd, Ian, ed. (2014). The History of Oxford University Press: Volume I: Beginnings to 1780. Oxford: OUP. ISBN 9780199557318.
- Eliot, Simon, ed. (2014). The History of Oxford University Press: Volume II: 1780 to 1896. Oxford: OUP. ISBN 9780199543151.
- ISBN 9780199574797.
- Official website
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- Illustrated article: The Most Famous Press in the World, World's Work and Play, June 1903
- Oxford University Press
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