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The Georgicks of Virgil, with an English Translation and Notes Virgil, John Martyn Ipsi in defossis specubus secura sub alta Otia agunt terra, congestaque robora, Pierius says it is confecto in the Roman manuscript. And Tacitus also says the Germans used to make caves to defend them from the severity of winter, .

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Early copyright law had begun to undercut the Stationers, and the university took pains to lease out its Bible work to experienced printers. When the American War of Independence deprived Oxford of a valuable market for its Bibles, this lease became too risky a proposition, and the Delegates were forced to offer shares in the Press to those who could take "the care and trouble of managing the trade for our mutual advantage.

Both prepared editions at the invitation of the Greek scholar Thomas Gaisford , who served as a Delegate for 50 years. During his time, the growing Press established distributors in London , and employed the bookseller Joseph Parker in Turl Street for the same purposes in Oxford. Parker also came to hold shares in the Press itself. This expansion pushed the Press out of the Clarendon building. In the Delegates bought land in Walton Street.

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Buildings were constructed from plans drawn up by Daniel Robertson and Edward Blore , and the Press moved into them in The Press now entered an era of enormous change. In , it was still a joint stock printing business in an academic backwater, offering learned works to a relatively small readership of scholars and clerics. The Press was the product of "a society of shy hypochondriacs," as one historian put it. They were long-serving classicists, presiding over a learned business that printed 5 or 10 titles each year, such as Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon , and they displayed little or no desire to expand its trade.

At this time, Thomas Combe joined the Press and became the university's Printer until his death in 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. He funded schooling at the Press and the endowment of St.

Barnabas Church in Oxford. It took the Royal Commission on the workings of the university and a new Secretary, Bartholomew Price , to shake up the Press. By the Delegacy had ceased to be 'perpetual,' and evolved into five perpetual and five junior posts filled by appointment from the university, with the Vice Chancellor a Delegate ex officio: a hothouse for factionalism that Price deftly tended and controlled. Equally, Price moved OUP towards publishing in its own right. The Press had ended its relationship with Parker's in and in bought a small London bindery for some Bible work.

By this time, Oxford also had a London warehouse for Bible stock in Paternoster Row , and in its manager Henry Frowde — 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. Price transformed OUP. In , the year he retired as Secretary, the Delegates bought back the last shares in the business.

In , he also took on the publication that led that process to its conclusion: the huge project that became the Oxford English Dictionary OED. Lengthy negotiations led to a formal contract. The next Secretary struggled to address this problem. Despite his education at Balliol and a background in London publishing, Gell found the operations of the Press incomprehensible.

The Delegates began to work around him, and the university finally dismissed Gell in Cannan had little opportunity for public wit in his new role. An acutely gifted classicist, he came to the head of a business that was successful in traditional terms but now moved into uncharted terrain. To meet these demands, OUP needed much more revenue. Cannan set out to obtain it. Outflanking university politics and inertia, he made Frowde and the London office the financial engine for the whole business.

Frowde steered Oxford rapidly into popular literature, acquiring the World's Classics series in Milford , to be Frowde's assistant. Milford became Publisher when Frowde retired in , and ruled over the lucrative London business and the branch offices that reported to it until his own retirement in His efforts were helped by the efficiency of the print shop. Horace Hart was appointed as Controller of the Press at the same time as Gell, but proved far more effective than the Secretary.

With extraordinary energy and professionalism, he improved and enlarged Oxford's printing resources, and developed Hart's Rules as the first style guide for Oxford's proofreaders. Subsequently, these became standard in print shops worldwide. When the Institute opened in , the Press had employees eligible to join it, including apprentices.

Frowde had no doubt that the Press's business in London could be very largely increased and was appointed on contract with a commission on sales.

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Seven years later, as Publisher to the University, Frowde was using his own name as an imprint as well as 'Oxford University Press'. This style persisted till recent times, with two kinds of imprints emanating from the Press's London offices. The distinctions implied by the imprints were subtle but important. Books that London issued on commission paid for by their authors or by some learned body were styled 'Henry Frowde', or 'Humphrey Milford' with no mention of OUP, as if the Publisher were issuing them himself, while books that the Publisher issued under the rubric of the university bore the imprint 'Oxford University Press'.

Both these categories were mostly handled by London, while Oxford in practice the Secretary looked after the Clarendon Press books. Commission books were intended as cash cows to fund the London Business's overheads, since the Press did not lay aside any resources for this purpose. Nevertheless, Frowde was especially careful to see that all commission books he published met with the Delegates' approval. This was not an uncommon arrangement for scholarly or antiquarian presses.

Price quickly primed Frowde for the imminent publication jointly with Cambridge University Press of the Revised Version of the Bible, which promised to be a ' bestseller ' on a scale that would require the employment of all the Press's resources to keep up with the demand. This was to be a complete retranslation of the text of the Bible from the oldest original Greek and Hebrew versions, superseding the Authorized Version of Frowde's agency was set up just in time, for the Revised Version, published on 17 May , sold a million copies before publication and at a breakneck rate thenceforth, though overproduction ultimately made a dent in the profits.

From quite early on he had ideas of advancing the Press's overseas trade, at first in Europe and increasingly in America, Canada, India, and Africa. He was more or less singlehandedly responsible for setting up the American Branch as well as depots in Edinburgh , Toronto , and Melbourne. Frowde dealt with most of the logistics for books carrying the OUP imprint, including handling authors, binding, dispatching, and advertising, and only editorial work and the printing itself were carried out at or supervised from Oxford.

Frowde regularly remitted money back to Oxford, but he privately felt that the business was undercapitalized and would pretty soon become a serious drain on the university's resources unless put on a sound commercial footing. He himself was authorized to invest money up to a limit in the business but was prevented from doing so by family troubles.

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Hence his interest in overseas sales, for by the s and s there was money to be made in India, while the European book market was in the doldrums. But Frowde's distance from the Press's decision-making meant he was incapable of influencing policy unless a Delegate spoke for him. Most of the time Frowde did whatever he could within the mandate given him by the Delegates. In , when applying for a pension, he wrote to J. Price, trying in his own way to modernize the Press against the resistance of its own historical inertia, had become overworked and by was so exhausted as to want to retire.

Benjamin Jowett had become vice chancellor of the university in Impatient of the endless committees that would no doubt attend the appointment of a successor to Price, Jowett extracted what could be interpreted as permission from the delegates and headhunted Philip Lyttelton Gell , a former student acolyte of his, to be the next secretary to the delegates. Gell was making a name for himself at the publishing firm of Cassell, Petter and Galpin , a firm regarded as scandalously commercial by the delegates.

Gell himself was a patrician who was unhappy with his work, where he saw himself as catering to the taste of "one class: the lower middle", [ citation needed ] and he grasped at the chance of working with the kind of texts and readerships OUP attracted. Jowett promised Gell golden opportunities, little of which he actually had the authority to deliver. He timed Gell's appointment to coincide with both the Long Vacation from June to September and the death of Mark Pattison, so potential opposition was prevented from attending the crucial meetings.

Jowett knew the primary reason why Gell would attract hostility was that he had never worked for the Press nor been a delegate, and he had sullied himself in the city with raw commerce. His fears were borne out. Gell immediately proposed a thorough modernising of the Press with a marked lack of tact, and earned himself enduring enemies.

Nevertheless, he was able to do a lot in tandem with Frowde, and expanded the publishing programmes and the reach of OUP until about Then his health broke down under the impossible work conditions he was being forced to endure by the Delegates' non-cooperation.

The delegates then served him with a notice of termination of service that violated his contract. However, he was persuaded not to file suit and to go quietly. The delegates were not opposed primarily to his initiatives, but to his manner of executing them and his lack of sympathy with the academic way of life. In their view the Press was, and always would be, an association of scholars. Gell's idea of "efficiency" appeared to violate that culture, although subsequently a very similar programme of reform was put into practice from the inside.

Milford , his younger colleague, effectively succeeded Frowde in Both were Oxford men who knew the system inside out, and the close collaboration with which they worked was a function of their shared background and worldview. Cannan was known for terrifying silences, and Milford had an uncanny ability, testified to by Amen House employees, to 'disappear' in a room rather like a Cheshire cat , from which obscurity he would suddenly address his subordinates and make them jump. Whatever their reasons for their style of working, both Cannan and Milford had a very hardnosed view of what needed to be done, and they proceeded to do it.

Indeed, Frowde knew within a few weeks of Milford's entering the London office in [] that he would be replaced. Milford, however, always treated Frowde with courtesy, and Frowde remained in an advisory capacity till Milford rapidly teamed up with J. Hodder Williams of Hodder and Stoughton , setting up what was known as the Joint Account for the issue of a wide range of books in education, science, medicine and also fiction.

Milford began putting in practice a number of initiatives, including the foundations of most of the Press's global branches. Milford took responsibility for overseas trade almost at once, and by he was making plans to send a traveller to India and the Far East jointly with Hodder and Stoughton.

Graydon first name unknown was the first such traveller in , and again in when he represented OUP exclusively in India, the Straits and the Far East. Cobb replaced him in , and in Cobb functioned as a travelling manager semi-permanently stationed in India.

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In , E. Rieu went out to East Asia via the Trans-Siberian Railway , had several adventures in China and Russia , then came south to India and spent most of the year meeting educationists and officials all over India. In , he arrived again in Bombay , now known as Mumbai. There he rented an office in the dockside area and set up the first overseas Branch. In , Europe was plunged into turmoil. The first effects of the war were paper shortages and losses and disturbances in shipping, then quickly a dire lack of hands as the staff were called up and went to serve on the field.

Many of the staff including two of the pioneers of the Indian branch were killed in action. Curiously, sales through the years to were good and it was only towards the end of the war that conditions really began pinching. Rather than bringing relief from shortages, the s saw skyrocketing prices of both materials and labour. Paper especially was hard to come by, and had to be imported from South America through trading companies.

Economies and markets slowly recovered as the s progressed. Not all of these were full-fledged branches: in Leipzig there was a depot run by H. Bohun Beet, and in Canada and Australia there were small, functional depots in the cities and an army of educational representatives penetrating the rural fastnesses to sell the Press's stock as well as books published by firms whose agencies were held by the Press, very often including fiction and light reading.

In India, the Branch depots in Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta were imposing establishments with sizable stock inventories, for the Presidencies themselves were large markets, and the educational representatives there dealt mostly with upcountry trade. The Depression of dried profits from the Americas to a trickle, and India became 'the one bright spot' in an otherwise dismal picture. Bombay was the nodal point for distribution to the Africas and onward sale to Australasia, and people who trained at the three major depots moved later on to pioneer branches in Africa and South East Asia.

The London blitz this time was much more intense and the London Business was shifted temporarily to Oxford. Milford, now extremely unwell and reeling under a series of personal bereavements, was prevailed upon to stay till the end of the war and keep the business going. As before, everything was in short supply, but the U-boat threat made shipping doubly uncertain, and the letterbooks are full of doleful records of consignments lost at sea.

Occasionally an author, too, would be reported missing or dead, as well as staff who were now scattered over the battlefields of the globe. DORA, the Defence of the Realm Act , required the surrender of all nonessential metal for the manufacture of armaments, and many valuable electrotype plates were melted down by government order. With the end of the war Milford's place was taken by Geoffrey Cumberlege. This period saw consolidation in the face of the breakup of the Empire and the post-war reorganization of the Commonwealth.

In tandem with institutions like the British Council , OUP began to reposition itself in the education market. Subsequently, it took over marketing of all books of its parent from Macmillan.


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The North American branch grew in sales between and , eventually becoming one of the leading university presses in the United States. It is focused on scholarly and reference books, Bibles, and college and medical textbooks. In the s, this office moved from Madison Avenue a building it shared with Putnam Publishing to Madison Avenue, which was the former B. Altman and Company headquarters. In December Cobb returned and rendered his accounts for his Asia trip that year. Cobb then proposed to Milford that the Press join a combination of firms to send commercial travellers around South America, to which Milford in principle agreed.

Cobb obtained the services of a man called Steer first name unknown to travel through Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and possibly other countries as well, with Cobb to be responsible for Steer. Steer's trip was a disaster, and Milford remarked gloomily that it 'bid fair to be the most costly and least productive on record' of all traveller's trips. The Press was obliged to disburse 80 percent of the value of the books he had carried as 'incidental expenses', so even if they had got substantial orders they would still have made a loss.

Few orders did in fact come out of the trip, and when Steer's box of samples returned, the London office found that they had not been opened further down than the second layer.


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While actual purchase of this series was beyond the means of most Indians, libraries usually had a set, generously provided by the government of India, available on open reference shelves, and the books had been widely discussed in the Indian press. It was there to serve the vast educational market created by the rapidly expanding school and college network in British India.

In spite of disruptions caused by war, it won a crucial contract to print textbooks for the Central Provinces in and this helped to stabilize its fortunes in this difficult phase. Rieu could not longer delay his callup and was drafted in , the management then being under his wife Nellie Rieu, a former editor for the Athenaeum 'with the assistance of her two British babies. At one point non-governmental composition at Oxford was reduced to 32 pages a week. By , Rieu was very ill and had to be brought home. He was replaced by Geoffrey Cumberlege and Noel Carrington.

Noel was the brother of Dora Carrington , the artist, and even got her to illustrate his Stories Retold edition of Don Quixote for the Indian market. Their father Charles Carrington had been a railway engineer in India in the nineteenth century. By there were makeshift depots at Madras and Calcutta. In , Noel Carrington went to Calcutta to set up a proper branch. There he became friendly with Edward Thompson who involved him in the abortive scheme to produce the 'Oxford Book of Bengali Verse'.

OUP's interaction with this area was part of their mission to India, since many of their travellers took in East and South East Asia on their way out to or back from India. Graydon on his first trip in had travelled the 'Straits Settlements' largely the Federated Malay States and Singapore , China, and Japan, but was not able to do much.

In , A. Cobb visited teachers and booksellers in Shanghai, and found that the main competition there was cheap books from America, often straight reprints of British books. To secure copyright in both territories publishers had to arrange for simultaneous publication, an endless logistical headache in this age of steamships. Prior publication in any one territory forfeited copyright protection in the other. They also traded with Edward Evans, another Shanghai bookseller. Milford observed, 'we ought to do much more in China than we are doing' and authorized Cobb in to find a replacement for Henzell as their representative to the educational authorities.

Verne McNeely, a redoubtable lady who was a member of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge , and also ran a bookshop. She looked after the affairs of the Press very capably and occasionally sent Milford boxes of complimentary cigars.

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Bibles were the major item of trade in China, unlike India where educational books topped the lists, even if Oxford's lavishly produced and expensive Bible editions were not very competitive beside cheap American ones. In the s, once the Indian Branch was up and running, it became the custom for staff members going out or returning to take a tour of East and South East Asia. Milford's nephew R. Christopher Bradby went out in He returned to Britain just in time, for on 18 October , the Japanese invaded Manchuria.

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