A & C Black

Last updated

A & C Black
Parent company Bloomsbury Publishing
Founded1807;217 years ago (1807)
Founder Adam Black and Charles Black
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationLondon
Publication typesBooks
Nonfiction topicsReference

A & C Black is a British book publishing company, owned since 2002 by Bloomsbury Publishing. The company is noted for publishing Who's Who since 1849 and the Encyclopædia Britannica between 1827 and 1903. [1] [2] It offers a wide variety of books in fiction and nonfiction, and has published popular travel guides, novels, and science books.



Sidney Hall's 1840 map of Africa, published by Adam and Charles Black Hall Africa 1840 UTA.jpg
Sidney Hall's 1840 map of Africa, published by Adam and Charles Black
Adam and Charles Black's 1863 edition of Woodstock, by Sir Walter Scott (first publ. 1826) Frontispiece 1863 Woodstock-whole.png
Adam and Charles Black's 1863 edition of Woodstock, by Sir Walter Scott (first publ. 1826)

The firm was founded in 1807 by Charles and Adam Black in Edinburgh. [1] In 1851, the company purchased the copyrights to Sir Walter Scott's Waverly novels for £27,000. [1] The company moved to the Soho district of London in 1889. [3]

During the years 1827–1903 the firm published the seventh, eighth and ninth editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica . This was purchased from Archibald Constable after his company's failure to publish the seventh edition of the encyclopedia. [4] Adam Black retired in 1870 due to his disapproval of his sons' extravagant plans for its ninth edition. [4] This edition, however, would sell half a million sets and was released in 24 volumes from 1875 to 1889. [4]

Beginning in 1839, the firm published a series of travel guides known as Black's Guides .

The company was the publisher of the annual Who's Who (since 1849 [2] ) and also, since 2002, the Whitaker's Almanack . Other notable works include Black's Medical Dictionary and the Know The Game series of sports rules and laws reference books. [5]

The firm also published the A. & C. Black Colour Books: Twenty Shilling Series (1901–21), [6] a "range of high-quality colour collectable picture books" [7] which are still collected by bibliophiles. [8]

In 1902 they published P. G. Wodehouse's first book, The Pothunters , and went on to produce many of his early works.

In 1989 A & C Black purchased both Christopher Helm Publishers and later the Pica Press, publishers of the Helm Identification Guides, from Christopher Helm. [9]

In 2000 A & C Black was purchased by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, which continued producing the former's range of reference works. [10]

In June 2002, T. & A. D. Poyser and their back-list of around 70 ornithology titles were acquired from Elsevier Science.

A & C Black purchased Methuen Drama from Methuen Publishing in 2006, and acquired Arden Shakespeare from Cengage Learning in 2008.

In 2016, A & C Black Music list moved to Collins Learning, a division of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Notable books

World maps from A & C Black's 1854 General Atlas Of The World A & C Black 1854 Chart of the World.jpg
World maps from A & C Black's 1854 General Atlas Of The World

Book series


Related Research Articles

Methuen Publishing Ltd is an English publishing house. It was founded in 1889 by Sir Algernon Methuen (1856–1924) and began publishing in London in 1892. Initially Methuen mainly published non-fiction academic works, eventually diversifying to encourage female authors and later translated works. E. V. Lucas headed the firm from 1924 to 1938.

Bloomsbury Publishing plc is a British worldwide publishing house of fiction and non-fiction. Bloomsbury's head office is located in Bloomsbury, an area of the London Borough of Camden. It has a US publishing office located in New York City, an India publishing office in New Delhi, an Australian sales office in Sydney CBD, and other publishing offices in the UK, including in Oxford. It is a constituent of the FTSE SmallCap Index.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chatto & Windus</span> British book publisher

Chatto & Windus is an imprint of Penguin Random House that was formerly an independent book publishing company founded in London in 1855 by John Camden Hotten. Following Hotten's death, the firm would reorganize under the names of his business partner Andrew Chatto and poet William Edward Windus. The company was purchased by Random House in 1987 and is now a sub-imprint of Vintage Books within the Penguin UK division.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jonathan Cape</span> English publishing firm (founded 1921)

Jonathan Cape is a London publishing firm founded in 1921 by Herbert Jonathan Cape (1879–1960), who was head of the firm until his death.

<i>Whitakers Almanack</i> British annual reference book

Whitaker's is a reference book, published annually in the United Kingdom. It was originally published by J Whitaker & Sons from 1868 to 1997, next by The Stationery Office until 2003 and then by A & C Black, which became a wholly owned subsidiary of Bloomsbury Publishing in 2011. The publication was acquired by Rebellion Publishing in 2020, with the 153rd edition appearing on 15 April 2021. In mid-2022, Rebellion announced that there would not be a 2022 edition.

<i>Wisden Cricketers Almanack</i> British cricket almanac

Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, or simply Wisden, colloquially the Bible of Cricket, is a cricket reference book published annually in the United Kingdom. The description "bible of cricket" has been used for Wisden since the early 1900s. In October 2013, an all-time Test World XI was announced to mark the 150th anniversary of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.

André Deutsch was a Hungarian-born British publisher who founded an eponymous publishing company in 1951.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Routledge</span> British publisher

George Routledge was a British book publisher and the founder of the publishing house Routledge.

Chapman & Hall is an imprint owned by CRC Press, originally founded as a British publishing house in London in the first half of the 19th century by Edward Chapman and William Hall. Chapman & Hall were publishers for Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, William Thackeray, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Anthony Trollope, Eadweard Muybridge and Evelyn Waugh.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blackie and Son</span> Publishing house

Blackie & Son was a publishing house in Glasgow, Scotland, and London, England, from 1809 to 1991.

Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd was a British publishing house with its head office in London. The firm had published books for over 100 years. It was acquired by Hodder & Stoughton in 1987 and became part of the Hodder Education group in 2001. In 2006, Hodder Arnold sold its academic journals to SAGE Publications. In 2009, Hodder Education sold its higher education lists in Media and Communications, History and English Literature, including many Arnold titles, to Bloomsbury Academic. In 2012, Hodder Education sold its medical and higher education lines, including the remainder of Arnold, to Taylor & Francis. Edward Arnold published books and journals for students, academics and professionals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">T. Fisher Unwin</span> British publishing company

T. Fisher Unwin was the London publishing house founded by Thomas Fisher Unwin, husband of British Liberal politician Jane Cobden in 1882.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ward, Lock & Co.</span> Publishing house in the United Kingdom

Ward, Lock & Co. was a publishing house in the United Kingdom that started as a partnership and developed until it was eventually absorbed into the publishing combine of Orion Publishing Group.

Duckworth Books, originally Gerald Duckworth and Company, founded in 1898 by Gerald Duckworth, is a British publisher.

Hamlyn is a UK publishing company founded by Paul Hamlyn in 1950 with an initial investment of £350. His desire was to create "fine books with the common touch" which remains the foundation of its commercial success. It is part of the Octopus Publishing Group, now owned by Hachette Livre.

Ernest Benn Limited was a British publishing house.

<i>Blacks Guides</i> Travel guide books

Black's Guides were travel guide books published by the Adam and Charles Black firm of Edinburgh beginning in 1839. The series' style tended towards the "colloquial, with fewer cultural pretensions" than its leading competitor Baedeker Guides. Contributors included David T. Ansted, Charles Bertram Black, and A.R. Hope Moncrieff.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dean & Son</span> 19th-century London publishing company

Dean & Son was a 19th-century London publishing firm, best known for making and mass-producing moveable children's books and toy books, established around 1800. Thomas Dean founded the firm, probably in the late 1790s, bringing to it innovative lithographic printing processes. By the time his son George became a partner in 1847, the firm was the preeminent publisher of novelty children's books in London. The firm was first located on Threadneedle Street early in the century; it moved to Ludgate Hill in the middle of the century, and then to Fleet Street from 1871 to 1890. In the mid-20th century the firm published books by Enid Blyton and children's classics in the Dean's Classics series.

Thomas Constable FRSE was a Scottish printer and publisher.

Watts & Co. was a British publishing house which aimed to promote rationalism and secular education and "publish free thought books at affordable prices". The firm had a close relationship with the Rationalist Press Association and many of books it published were imprinted "Issued for the Rationalist Press Association Limited".


  1. 1 2 3 Ward, Arthur (2015). A Guide to War Publications of the First & Second World War: From Training Guides to Propaganda Posters. Barnsley, UK: Pen and Sword. ISBN   978-1-78383-154-8.
  2. 1 2 Duckett, Robert John; Walker, Peter; Donnelly, Christinea (2008). Know it All, Find it Fast: An A-Z Source Guide for the Enquiry Desk (3rd ed.). London: Facet Publishing. p. 77. ISBN   978-1-85604-652-7.
  3. Barton, Susan; Brodie, Allan (2016). Travel and Tourism in Britain, 1700–1914 Vol 1. Oxon: Routledge. p. 25. ISBN   978-1-84893-412-2.
  4. 1 2 3 Finkelstein, David (2007). Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Volume 4: Professionalism and Diversity 1880-2000, Volume 4. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. p. 347. ISBN   978-0-7486-1829-3.
  5. Know The Game, archive.org. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  6. A. & C. Black Colour Books: Twenty Shilling Series, publishinghistory.com. Retrieved on 16 April 2017.
  7. The History of A&C Black Publishers, archive.org. Retrieved on 16 April 2017.
  8. Cliff Tomaszewski, "A. & C. Black's 20/- Colour Books", Stella and Rose's Books. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  9. FOB: Firms Out of Business, utexas.edu. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  10. Gadsby, David (10 November 2013). "Charles Black obituary | Publishing". The Guardian.
  11. Ballet Pocket Series (Newman Wolsey Ltd; then: A. & C. Black) - Book Series List, publishinghistory.com. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  12. bibliogroup:Black's Novel Library, Google Books. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  13. Sir Walter Besant and G. E. Mitton, The Fascination of London: Holburn and Bloomsbury , London: Adam & Charles Black, 1903 (The Fascination of London series), archive.org. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  14. The Making of the Nations (A. & C. Black) – Book Series List, publishinghistory.com. Retrieved 31 January 2020.

Further reading