From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

The Oxford University Press is recognized throughout the academic world, at least in the English-speaking countries, by its initials OUP, or, in a rather older style, O.U.P. (see Punctuation of abbreviations). "Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide" according to its website. It is said, by John Hood, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University [[1]], to be the largest university press in the world, and its reputation in the field of reference books, particularly at levels suited for HE, is unrivalled. In particular, it is the current (and probably permanent) home of two of the greatest monuments to collective scholarship in the world: the OED and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. For the purposes of AWE, its value also lies in many other reference works, among them Fowler's A Dictionary of Modern English Usage and Hart's Rules, etc. Its on-line provision is impressive. Students with Athens access can consult, as well as both OED and ODNB, several Dictionaries, bilingual and specialist; many of the Oxford Companions; Grove Music Online - the most important reference tools in their subject areas; and a collection known as Oxford Reference Online Premium Collection, containing the on-line version of Fowler's A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, may be useful to many students in Higher Education. There is also an on-line version of The American National Biography, published by Oxford University Press under the auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies.

The Press is managed by Delegates, a committee appointed by the University largely from those who hold posts there. This is the equivalent of the Board of Directors. The 'Chief Executive Officer' is the Secretary to the Delegates. In the last century and a half these have been G.W. Kitchin, from 1866 to 1868; Bartholomew Price, who began to make OUP great, from 1868 to 1884; Philip Lyttelton Gell (1884-1898); Charles Cannan (1898-1919); R.W. Chapman (1919-1942); Kenneth Sisam (1942-1946); A.L.P Norrington (1948-1954); C.H.Roberts (1954-1974); and G.B. Richardson. The current Secretary (2008) is Henry Reece.

Around 1863, Alexander Macmillan, head of the commercial publishing house Macmillan, was appointed London agent of the OUP. His association ended in 1880. He was succeeded in function by Henry Frowde, appointed as Publisher to the University of Oxford in 1883, and from his time began the practice of distinguishing 'London books' (less ferociously academic) from 'Clarendon books', very rarefied. The latter are designated by 'Clarendon Press' on the title page; the latter are usually marked by the name, followed by 'Publisher to the University'. Frowde served until 1913, and was succeeded by Humphry Milford (1913-1945), Geoffrey Cumberlege (1945-1956) and John Brown. The name of the Publisher or the Secretary is sometimes to be found on the title pages of older publications of the Press, as is that of the Printer to the University. These have included Horace Hart (1883-1915), the author of Hart's Rules, Frederick Hall (1915 - 1925), John Johnson (1925 - 1946), Charles Batey (1946 - 1958) and Vivian Ridler (1958 - 1978), whose imprint on the back of the title page of OUP's classical texts read excudebat Vivianus Ridler Architypographus academicus (~ 'Vivian Ridler, academic Chief Printer printed [it]'). The founder of OUP's high typographical reputation was John Fell, Vice Chancellor (1666-1668), later Bishop of Oxford, who collected fonts and established a type foundry in Oxford.

OUP's commercial strength is undisputed. Three periods of significance laid the foundations. About 1690, it began to profit from a licence to print bibles, shared exclusively with the Cambridge University Press and the King's Printers: this remained a profitable enterprise well into the twentieth century, being particularly strengthened by the publication of the Revised Version on 17th May 1881, when a million copies were sold. In 1702 it published a best-seller: History of the Great Rebellion by the Earl of Clarendon: it was with the proceeds of this that the Press established itself in Clarendon House, and its headquarters are still in Great Clarendon Street, Oxford; one of its imprints to this day remains the Clarendon Press. (The London business was based originally in a house on Paternoster Row, rather jokingly named Amen Corner: it then moved to Amen House, whose imprint can be seen on Bibles.) Its current strength relies strongly on its great output of reference books, not only dictionaries - but its widest academic reputation probably relies on OED, ODNB and ANB. In the nineteenth century, its sales of the classical dictionaries Lewis and Short's Latin Dictionary and Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon were very profitable.

Beware: OUP may also refer to Ohio University Press, in the USA. It is unlikely that British academics would confuse these two.