Oxford University Press.

Some account of the Oxford University Press, 1468-1921 online

. (page 2 of 6)
Online LibraryOxford University PressSome account of the Oxford University Press, 1468-1921 → online text (page 2 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

attractive cloth and paper bindings for books sold at the
lowest prices. It still deals with a part only -of the
books printed under the same roof j but a large expan-
sion is looked for in the near future.

Between the two wings, and across the quadrangle, are
two houses once occupied by the late Horace Hart and by
Dr. Henry Bradley, now the senior of the three editors of
the Oxford Dictionary. The houses became some years ago
unfit for habitation from the encroachment of machinery ;
but one of them was a welcome refuge during the years of
war to the staff of the Oxford Local Examinations, who
on the jth of August 1914 were turned out of their office
at an hour's notice to make room for a Base Hospital.


Adjacent to the houses are the fire-proof Plate Room,
where some 75-0 tons of metal are stored, the Stereotype
and Electrotype Foundry, and the Monotype Rooms, a de-
partment which has lately added to its equipment and
bids fair to pass the ancient composing rooms in output.
Other departments in and about the old building are the
Photographic Room, famous for its collotype printing, the
Type Foundry, where Fell type is still cast from the old
matrices, and the Ink Factory.

The front of the building on Walton Street consists
chiefly of packing rooms, where books are dispatched by
rail or road to the City of London and elsewhere, and of
offices those of the Printer to the University on the
ground floor and those of the Secretary to the Delegates
above. Here are reference libraries of books printed
or published by the Press, and records ranging from the
oldest Delegates 5 minute-book of the seventeenth century
to modern type- written correspondence arranged on the
4 vertical 5 system of filing.

As the visitor enters the main gate the first object which
catches his eye is a plain stone monument on the lawn.
There are inscribed the names of the forty-four men of the
Oxford Press who gave their lives in the War. Beyond
the memorial is the quadrangle, made beautiful by grass
and old trees ; and from upper windows it is still possible
to look over the flats of the Thames Valley and see the
sun set behind Wytham Woods.

Corporate feeling has always been strong among the
workers at the Press, and though the Delegates and their
officers have done what they could to promote it, it is
essentially a natural growth. Many of the work-people
come of families which have been connected with the
Press for generations- and they are proud not only of

The New Bindery

The Crypt




the old traditions of fine and honest work, but also
of the usefulness and scholarly excellence of the books
on which their labour is spent. The Press is, in all its
parts, conscious at once of its unity and of its relation
to the University of which it is an integral part.

This spirit is well shown by the history of the Press
Volunteer Fire Brigade, constituted in 1 8 8 5-. The Brigade
now numbers thirty-two officers and men, who by regular
drills and competitions have made themselves efficient
firemen, and able to assist the Oxford City Brigade in case
of need. The Press possesses also a branch of the St. John
Ambulance Brigade, and first aid can be given at once if
any accident happens.

Various Provident and Benevolent Societies exist at
the Press, and the principle of co-operation by the
employer was recognized for many years before the
passing of the National Health Insurance Act. The
Hospitals Fund makes substantial yearly contributions
to the Radcliffe Infirmary and the Oxford Eye Hospital,
and in view of the pressing needs of these institutions the
subscription to the Fund has recently been doubled.

The common life naturally finds expression in the
organization of recreation of all kinds. There is a
Dramatic Society, the records of which go back to 1860;
an Instrumental Society, dating from 185-2; a Vocal
Society, a Minstrel Society, a Piscatorial Society ; Athletic,
Cricket, Football, and Bowls Clubs, now amalgamated ;
and, not the least useful nor the least entertaining, the
Gardening Association, formed during the war to meet
the demand for more potatoes. Such of the men of the
Press as were obliged to content themselves with the
defence of the home front, responded with enthusiasm
in their own gardens and allotments ; and the Food


Production Exhibition which crowned their efforts in
the summer of 1918 became an annual event. In peace,
as in war, there is need for all the food we can produce ;
and the Gardening Association has very wisely not relaxed
its efforts.

The Clarendon Press Institute in Walton Street, close
to the Press itself, provides accommodation for lectures,
debates, and dramatic and other entertainments, as well
as a library, a reading room, and rooms for indoor
games. The building was given by the Delegates, who
contribute to its maintenance, but its management is
completely democratic. The members appoint their own
executive and are responsible for their own finances.

The Council have since 1919 issued a quarterly
illustrated Magazine, printed c in the house '. The
Ciarendonian publishes valuable and entertaining records
of the professional interests and social activities of the
employees of the Press, as well as affording some outlet
for literary aspirations.

2. The Press in the War

THE Press made to the prosecution of the War both
a direct and an indirect contribution. In August
1 9 14 about 5-75" adult males were employed at Oxford j
of these sixty-three, being members of the Territorial
Force, were mobilized at the outbreak of war ; and of
the remainder some 293 enlisted in 1914 or later.
Considering the number of those who from age or other
causes were unfit for service, the proportion of voluntary
enlistment was high. The London Office and Wolvercote
Mill also gave their quota to the service of the Crown.

Those who were obliged to remain behind were not
idle. The Oxford historians at once engaged in the
controversy upon the responsibility for the War j and
in September 1914 the Press published Why We are at
War: Great Britain's Case, a series of essays closely and
dispassionately reasoned, and illustrated by official docu-
ments including the German White Book, reproduced
exactly from the English translation published in Berlin
for neutral consumption and vitiated by clumsy variations
from the German original. Why We are at War rapidly
went through twelve impressions, and at the instance of
Government was translated into six languages. The profits
were handed over to the Belgian Relief Fund. At the
same time was initiated, under the editorship of Mr.
H. W. C. Davis, the series of Oxford Pamphlets on war
topics, of which in a short time more than half a million
copies were sold all over the world. Later, when the

3467 E

34 The TRESS

public appetite for pamphlets slackened, and the world
had leisure for closer study, the series of Histories of
the Belligerents was founded, which is noticed elsewhere.

4 The Clarendon Press, 5 writes Sir Walter Raleigh in his
Introduction to the Oxford 'University Roll of Service,
<- though deprived of the services of virtually all its men
of military age, was active in the production of books and
pamphlets, most of them written by Oxford men, setting
forth the causes and issues of the War a mine of
information, and an armoury of apologetics.'

Not the least of the services rendered by the Press was
the printing done for the Naval Intelligence Department
of the Admiralty directed by Admiral Sir Reginald Hall.
Both secrecy and speed were essential to the usefulness ot
this work, and to secure them the Printer to the University
made special arrangements involving a severe strain upon
himself and those to whom the work was entrusted.
Admiral Hall, when unveiling the Press War Memorial in
October i 920, declared that the work done was unique
in kind, and that without the help of the Press the
operations of his Department could not have been
carried out with success.

As the War dragged on, the numbers employed at the
Press steadily declined j the demands of Government as
steadily increased ; the shortage of materials of all kinds
became more and more acute. None the less the Bible
Press met an unprecedented demand for the New
Testament by supplying within three years four and
a half million of copies for use in the field. The Learned
Press, too, continued to produce, though the volume of
production became less and less. The machinery of the
Dictionary, though its movement was retarded, never
came to a standstill. The scientific journals continued to


in the WAR 35

appear, and not a few learned books were published.
A greater number, however, were placed in the Dele-
gates' safes, in expectation of the increased facilities
which the end of the War has hardly brought. The
manufacturing powers of the Press, indeed, have virtually
reached their pre-war level ; but the ever-rising cost of
labour and materials has made it as yet impossible to
restore to its old volume the output of books which
could at no time have been remunerative. It may be
added that the Delegates, like other publishers, have had
to consider that the purchasing power of the public on
which they rely has not kept pace with the rise in costs.
The price of books has of course risen very greatly; but
the ratio of increase has been substantially lower than
that of commodities in general.

E 2

]. Wofoercote Taper <JMill

THE first mention of paper-making in or near Oxford
is a story of one Edwards, who about 1670 planned
to erect a mill at Wolvercote and was encouraged by
Fell. In 1718 Hearne the antiquary wrote that c some
of the best paper in England is made at Wolvercote
Mill 5 . It was bought by the Press in 1870.

The Mill stands on a branch of the Thames, on the
edge of the quiet village of Wolvercote, and near the
ruins of Godstow Nunnery. The water-wheel has long
ceased to play more than a very minor part in the
driving of the mill, which now has two modern paper-
making machines, 72 and 80 inches wide respectively.
The power used is partly steam, but a large part of the
plant has quite recently been electrified.

Most varieties of high-class printing paper are made
at Wolvercote, which besides feeding the Press does
a considerable trade with other printers. The paper,
made for the Oxford Dictionary and some other books
is of the finest rag and is probably as durable as the best
hand-made paper of former times. But the Mill is
best known for its c Bible 7 papers, exceptionally thin,
tough, and opaque, with a fine printing surface. Paper
of this kind reaches its acme in the famous Oxford
India Paper, the invention of which made revolutionary
changes in the printing of Bibles. A great many Oxford
books are now printed in two editions, an ordinary and

Beater Room

Machine Room

Paper Sorting

Paper Stock Warehouse


an India paper. If the saving of space is an important
consideration, the convenience of the thinner editions
of such books as the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the Concise
Dictionary of National Biography^ or the Oxford Survey of
the British Empire is obvious ; and many people like to
read the Poets and the Classics in thin and light volumes.
The Oxford Homer will go into a pocket, though it has
i, 374 pages; and the India paper Shakespeare and Oxford
Book of English Verse are delightfully easy to carry and

The Controller of the Mill is Mr. Douglas Clapperton
(a name well known in the paper trade), who succeeded
Mr. Joseph Castle in 1916.

4,. The "Press in London

THE association of the Oxford Press with London
booksellers the publishers of former days goes
back to early times. Apart from the negative agree-
ment with the Stationers' Company, not to print Bibles
and Almanacks, we find, at the end of the seventeenth
century, Oxford Bibles bearing the imprint of various
London booksellers. In 1776 Dr. Johnson wrote to the
Master of University College a letter, printed by Boswell,
in which he sets forth with knowledge and perspicacity
the philosophy of bookselling; the moral of the dis-
course is that the University must offer more attractive
discounts to the book trade- a doctrine which has been
adopted in modern times, though in 1776 it perhaps fell
upon deaf ears.

Not later than 1770 a Bible Warehouse was established
in Paternoster Row. But it was not until a century later
that the Press undertook the distribution in London of
its secular books. In 1884 these books, formerly sold by
Messrs. Macmillan, were taken over by the Manager of
the Bible Warehouse, Mr. Henry Frowde, who thus be-
came sole publisher to the University; an office which
he continued to hold with great skill, devotion, and success
until on his retirement in 1913 he was succeeded by
Mr. Humphrey Milford.

To-day the activities of the Press in or near Amen
Corner, London, E.G. 4, are multifarious. From his bound
stocks Mr. Milford is ready at short notice to supply to



the booksellers or booksellers' agents any Clarendon Press
book, any Bible or Prayer Book, any of the books pub-
lished by himself as publisher to the University, such as
Oxford Poets, World's Classics, Oxford Elementary Books,
or by himself and Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton the
Oxford Medical Publications or for the numerous learned
bodies and American Universities for whom he is agent
whether in the United Kingdom or universally.

In the premises at Amen Corner alone it is estimated
that upwai\ls of three quarters of a million books are at
any one time in stock. Packing and distribution is carried
on in the basement and also at Falcon Square, where the
large export department operates. Mr. Milford also main-
tains at Old Street a 4 quire' department from which books
in sheets are given out to his own or other binderies, and
in Aldersgate Street a bindery from which many of the
finest Bibles and other leather books are turned out.

The offices at Amen Corner are the centre of the selling
activities of the Press ; from them is directed the policy
of the branches of the business at home and abroad. An
institution so far-flung naturally causes some confusion
in the public mind. Inquiries from India have sometimes
been addressed to New York, and Mr. Horace Hart trea-
sured an envelope addressed to The Controller of the Universe.
In general, however, it is now widely understood that
inquiries for books should be addressed (by booksellers,
or by the public, if the usual trade channels fail) to
Oxford University Press in London or at the nearest Branch
(New York, Toronto, Melbourne, Cape Town, Bombay,
Calcutta, Madras, Shanghai, Copenhagen^ ; questions
about printing to Controller, Clarendon Press, Oxford, and
proposals for publication either to the nearest Branch or
direct to the Secretary, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

?. The ^Administration of the Press

AJL the activities of the Press may be described as
a function of the corporation known as the Chancellor,
Masters^ and Scholars of the University of Oxford, acting
through the Delegates of the Press. The constitution of
this Delegacy is in some respects peculiar. So long ago
as 175-7 the statute promoted by Sir William Blackstone
for the better management of the Press established the
principles of continuity and of expert knowledge by the
constitution of Perpetual Delegates ; and these principles
have been maintained.

The Delegacy is now composed of the Vice-Chancellor
and Proctors for the time being ex officio^ and (normally)
of ten others, of whom five are Perpetual. Delegates are
appointed for a term of years by the Vice-Chancellor and
Proctors, by whom they may be re-elected ; but when a
vacancy occurs among the perpetual Delegates, the Dele-
gates as a whole are enjoined by statute to c subrogate *
one of the junior Delegates to be perpetual, ad supplendum
perpetuo numerum quinque Perpetuorum Delepatorum.

The roll of the Delegates contains the names of many
famous scholars. Among those of recent times may be
mentioned William Stubbs, Ingram Bywater, Frederick
York Powell. Within the last few years the Press has
sustained very heavy losses in the death of some of the
most experienced of its Delegates. William Sanday, Lady
Margaret Professor of Divinity, took an active part in the
many works of profound learning upon New Testament
criticism, by which Oxford has maintained its fame for
the prosecution of Biblical learning. Henry Tresawna
Gerrans, Fellow of Worcester College, was active in
financial administration and in the organization of


educational publications. David Henry Nagel, Fellow of
Trinity College, gave invaluable advice on scientific books
and on technical processes of manufacture. He was chiefly
responsible for the plan of the new Bindery, recently com-
pleted, which bears his name. The services of Sir William
Osier, Regius Professor of Medicine, and of Charles
Caiman, of Trinity College, for over twenty years Secretary
to the Delegates, are noticed elsewhere in these pages.

The composition of the board on i December 1921
was as follows :

The Vice-Chancellor (Dr. L. R. Farnell, Rector of
Exeter College) and the Proctors ; T. B. Strong, Bishop
of Ripon and formerly Dean of Christ Church (extra
numerum y by Decree of Convocation) ; C. R. L. Fletcher,
Magdalen College; P. E. Matheson, Fellow of New
College; D. G. Hogarth, Fellow of Magdalen College
and Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum ; N. Whatley,
Fellow of Hertford College ; Sir Walter Raleigh, Fellow
of Merton College and Professor of English Literature
all perpetual Delegates : H. J. White, Dean of Christ
Church ; Sir Archibald Garrod, Student of Christ Church
and Regius Professor of Medicine ; Cyril Bailey, Fellow
of Balliol College; H. E. D. Blakiston, President of
Trinity ; and N. V. Sidgwick, Fellow of Lincoln.

The principal officers are : /;/ Oxford^ R. W. Chapman,
Oriel College, Secretary^ J. de M. Johnson, Exeter College,
Assistant Secretary ; F. J. Hall, Printer to the 'University ;
in London^ Humphrey Milford, New College, Publisher to
the 'University ; in New Tork^ W. W. Mclntosh, Vice-
President of the American Branch; in Toronto^ S. B.
Gundy, Manager of the Canadian Branch ; in Bombay ^
G. F. J. Cumberlege, Worcester College, Manager of the
Indian Branch; in Melbourne^ E. R. Bartholomew, Manager
of the Australian Branch.

6. The Finances of the *Press

FOR some two centuries from the time of Fell the
Press was partly controlled by private partners,
since the last of these was bought out by the efforts
of Bartholomew Price, the University has been completely
master of all its printing and publishing business. The
Press to-day has no shareholders or debenture-holders,
and subserves no private interest. On the other hand it
possesses virtually no endowment. The whole of its great
business has been gradually built up by the thrifty utiliza-
tion of profits made by the sale of its books or in a minor
degree from work done for outside customers. The main-
tenance of the Learned Press, with its output of scholarly
and educational books, many of which are in their nature
unremunerative, depends and has always depended upon
the profitable management of the publications of the Press
as a whole. In the last century the revenue devoted to
learning was supplied mainly from the sale of Bibles and
Prayer Books ; but changing conditions led the managers
of the Press to the conclusion that if the promotion of
education and research were to keep pace with the grow-
ing volume and range of the demand, it would be
necessary to expand the general activities of the business
in many directions.

In prudent pursuance of a far-sighted policy, the
overseas Branches of the Press were established to increase
the sale of Oxford books ; new departments of the pub-


lishing business were created, such as the very extensive
series of cheap editions of the English Classics, and, more
recently, the Oxford Elementary Books and the Oxford
Medical Publications; and in the course of years the
publications of the Learned Press itself have gradually
become more popular in character and addressed to a
wider audience. In the event, the Press to-day possesses
a business of such magnitude and variety as will, it may
be hoped, enable it to surmount the formidable obstacles
which the increased cost of manufacture opposes to the
production of all works of learning.

The demands made upon the Press for the organization
and publication of research are now at least as great as
ever. It has again and again been pointed out by the
friends of research, that organization and encouragement
are idle unless the publication of valuable results is
guaranteed; and in the past scholars in this country, and
not in this country only, have looked to the Presses of
Oxford and Cambridge to do the work which in Germany
was carried out by Academies subsidized by Government
for this purpose. But the fulfilment of such expectations
is far more onerous than formerly. The tenth and last
volume of the great English Dictionary, now more than
half printed, will when it is complete have cost at least
.5-0,000. The revised edition of Liddell and Scott's
Greek Lexicon, upon which the Delegates embarked some
years before the war, is now estimated to cost 20,000.
These are enterprises in the successful conclusion of which
the honour of the University is concerned; and they will
be concluded ; but the date of completion, and therefore
the initiation of other projects of learning, have
inevitably been retarded by the events of the last seven

F 2


The endowment of research is a difficult subject, and
nobody is more conscious than are the Delegates of the
Press, that results of lasting value are not achieved by
the mere expenditure of money. Yet they cannot but
be aware that by the possession of the machinery and
traditions of such works as the English Dictionary, and by
their intimate association with experts in many fields, they
are in a position to promote research and co-operative
enterprise in the most effective and economical way. The
support given to the Press in the past, whether by
individuals or by other institutions devoted to learning,
has been trifling in consideration of the work which it has
produced. The need of such support is now far more
urgent ; and the record of the Press is proof that financial
support would be turned to good account.

7. Oxford Imprints

imprints used by the Press as printers and as
JL publishers are various, and their import is not
always understood. Oxford at the Clarendon Press is his-
torically and strictly a printer's imprint, and it is confined
to books printed at Oxford; but it has come to mean
more than this, and to be appropriated to such books as
are not only printed at Oxford, but are also published
auctoritate 'IJniversitatis, their contents as well as their
form being certified by the University, acting through
the Delegates of the Press. A book with this imprint may
in general be assumed to be published at the expense of
the Delegates; but the c Clarendon Press imprint' has
come to be so prized as carrying the Oxford 4 hall-mark '
that its use has occasionally been solicited and accorded
for works of learning produced under the patronage of
government or of learned societies within the Empire and
the United States of America.

The Press publishes also, in the ordinary course of
business, large numbers of books for which the Delegates
assume a less particular responsibility; these are issued
with the London imprint of the Publisher to the Univer-
sity (Oxford ^University Press: London, Humphrey Milford}
or those of its branches abroad (Oxford ^University Press
American Branch, Oxford University Press Indian Branch and
so on), or on behalf of the numerous universities, learned
societies, or private publishers for whom the University

it epp^fieio fanctjjfcgamw fit
fimbolo apoftoloami a& papam laute
euim Jroprcfla (5>>:onic <Jt fmita Art
no bommt . AV * cccc * Ijeviij jcvij'&w:


From the last pagg cf the jirst Oxford
book.. 1^68 (?U7'8)


KjCftt/ttto cettembilie @Ie)can
5ci |up teraa Jib^ is arnma* ^Im^
pceffum p me ^C^olcridt txoo te

ijti8ie menjte

C3impjcrrum eft pjefeii,^ opu(cu!um in eelebettma
tnm etfttate ^Djnicnft pet nw 3Joannon >eoiat


2 4 5 6

Online LibraryOxford University PressSome account of the Oxford University Press, 1468-1921 → online text (page 2 of 6)