Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Catholic publishing heritage

The news was announced last week that Continuum, a leading Catholic publisher, has been bought by Bloomsbury, the publisher of the Harry Potter novels.

The Continuum International Publishing Group was established in its current form in 1999, when Continuum Publishing in New York merged with the London-based Cassell’s academic and religious publishing division. Before and since that date, acquisitions had been part of the company’s strategy, and their imprints included T&T Clark (founded in Edinburgh in 1821) and Burns and Oates (founded in 1847).

Burns and Oates was founded by James Burns in 1847 and among its earliest authors was Cardinal Newman. It continued to publish outstanding Roman Catholic thinkers thereafter – G.K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox, Hans Küng, Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, Romano Guardini, Thomas Merton and Frederick Copleston SJ.

Designated ‘Publishers to the Holy See’ by Pope Leo XIII, Burns & Oates has also maintained a strong tradition of publishing official works for the Catholic Church in England and Wales, including The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church and numerous liturgical publications approved for official use in Catholic churches in England, Scotland and Wales. Their list of authors now includes another generation of outstanding Catholic writers such as Timothy Radcliffe OP, Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), Cardinal Daneels, Eamon Duffy, Cardinal Walter Kasper and Anselm Grün. Continuum was awarded Independent Publishers' Group Publisher of the Year 2011 and Academic & Professional Publisher of the Year.

Burns and Oates once occupied premises which now house the London bookshop of ST PAULS. Longevity of memory is a wonder thing, which is often seen in visitors to our shop when they make comments such as, "I remember when this was Burns and Oates" or, as one lady said, "It is so nice to see this place is still a Catholic bookshop, it’s much bigger than Burns and Oates ever was." A heritage ST PAULS is proud of, but one which can only be maintained if we have the support of Catholic and other Christian publishers.