Boydell & Brewer Ltd was formed in 1978. It merged two companies, Boydell Press (founded in 1969) and D.S. Brewer, whose founders, Richard Barber and Derek Brewer, were themselves scholars – Brewer a Chaucer specialist and subsequently Professor of English and Master of Emmanuel College, Barber a medieval historian and Arthurian. Richard Barber is still a highly active scholar and continues to publish eminently in his own right and offers a vast amount of knowledge and experience to Boydell & Brewer.
Medieval studies originally formed the core of the list, but it has rapidly expanded to embrace the humanities in all periods up to and including the present day: for example, Colin White’s edition of Nelson — The New Letters was considered one of the landmark publications commemorating the 200th anniversary of the admiral’s death.
In 1996 the company bought John Varey’s Tamesis list and became the leading Hispanic studies imprint outside Spain. Tamesis specialised in the publication of archive studies of Spanish theatrical history and scholarly editions and monographs relating to the literature, history, art and philology of the Spanish-speaking world. Recently the series has broadened to include more studies on living writers, Latin American subjects, film and history.
The Boydell Press has also become one of the leading publishers of books on classical music. Initially the list had a particular focus on British music and music of the twentieth century, but this has since broadened to include all periods and genres. During the Britten 100 celebrations of 2013, Boydell emerged as the pre-eminent publisher of books on this modern master with the sixth and final volume of Letters from a Life: The Selected Letters of Benjamin Britten appearing in that anniversary year. Boydell also distributes a number of music book publishers, including Plumbago Books, Toccata Press, and the English-language publications of the Paul Sacher Foundation.
Seeking to establish a presence in the US market, Boydell & Brewer entered into a partnership agreement with the University of Rochester to found the University of Rochester Press in June 1989, which now publishes around 30 books each year. Alongside publications in the fields of African studies, philosophy, and social and medical history, URP is also home to the prestigious Eastman Studies in Music series. In 1998 the US programme was extended further with Boydell & Brewer’s acquisition of Camden House, a scholarly publisher of books on German and American literature and culture.
In 2008, the renowned publisher of books in African Studies, James Currey Ltd joined the Boydell and Brewer group of imprints. Founded in 1984, when James Currey left Heinemann Educational Books as publisher of the acclaimed African Writers series, this independent imprint continued his personal engagement in African publishing. The list includes topics on the cutting edge of African politics and current affairs, with titles covering the conflict in Sudan, Chinese involvement in Africa, land issues and the role of women in contemporary African society.
Boydell & Brewer publish and distribute for the Victoria County History as well as various other learned societies, underlining Boydell & Brewer’s continuing commitment to the whole range of scholarly publishing in the 21st century. We were an early pioneer of eBooks: now, nearly 1,500 titles from our extensive range are available in this format to libraries, with several hundred hand-picked titles offered via a range of websites for the individual reader.
While embracing a philosophy of innovation and growth including becoming an Employee-Owned Company, Boydell & Brewer remains a defiantly independent publisher of scholarly works for the academic community and thought-provoking, attractively-produced books for the general reader.