THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS AND THE SPREAD OF LEARNING: An Illustrated History 1478-1978 by Nicolas Barker

THE OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS AND THE SPREAD OF LEARNING: An Illustrated History 1478-1978

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In 1478 the first Oxford Press issued its first publication, an exposition of the Apostles' Creed by Rufinus, a fourth-century divine, and books have appeared under the Oxford imprint ever since--an august procession of ancient and medieval classics, learned studies, Bibles, textbooks and school editions, dictionaries, hymnals, anthologies, and (in the 20th century) original literary works. In the course of becoming ""the largest publishing business in the world,"" the Press, Bible-merchant to the US, expanded overseas; an American branch was opened in 1896, to be followed shortly by Canadian, Australian, and Indian offices--and others, at various times, from Copenhagen to Kuala Lumpur. All of which is handsomely and meticulously set forth in this illustrated catalog/pictorial chronicle, one of four Quincentenary volumes to appear this spring. (Another, Peter Sutcliffe's narrative history, is reviewed below.) The 375 items listed and described--chiefly O.U.P. publications, with supporting documents and pictures--will be on view at the Morgan Library (beginning in March) and the University of Western Ontario; but the 196 illustrated here effectively depict, with Nicolas Barker's summaries and annotations, the dominant personalities and signal achievements in Press history. Here is uncongenial John Fell (""I do not love you, Dr. Fell. . ."") as painted by Six Geoffrey Kneller and the famous Fell type-fonts procured from Holland for proper academic printing; Sir William Blackstone, who reformed the faltering Press and there published ""the nearest thing to a constitution of England""; and the diverse contributions of Jowett, Murray, Fowler, ""Oxford India Paper,"" and the Bible monopoly. Anyone with an allegiance to great books finely printed is in their debt.

Pub Date: March 8th, 1978
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press