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Books on George Allen, GA&U and Unwin Brothers

May 8, 2010 (edited)

I was hoping for some recommendations on books on the following areas

History of George Allen publishers

I am not really aware of any books that deal with the history of George Allen before Sir Stanley Unwin bought the company, though there is a chapter in George Allen & Unwin: A Remembrancer.

Wellinghall provided the following book

From Swan Sonnenschein to George Allen & Unwin Ltd -
Mumby, F.A. & Frances H.S. Stallybrass (GA&U)

History of George Allen & Unwin publishers

The books that I currently have which deal with this area are:

The Truth about a Publisher - Sir Stanley Unwin (GA&U)
The Publishing Unwins - Philip Unwin (Heinemann)
Fifty Years with Father: A Relationship - David Unwin (GA&U)
George Allen & Unwin: A Remembrancer - Rayner Unwin (Merlin Unwin)

Wellinghall provided the following booklet

Sir Stanley Unwin: The Celebration of his 80th Birthday and Golden Wedding Day; with allusions to 50 years of George Allen & Unwin Ltd under his direction; 40 years on the Executive of The International Publishers Association; and 30 years on The British Council - Booklet

Findegil provided the following pamphlet

Fifty Years of Publishing Books That Matter - Unknown Author (GA&U)

and I would probably also include

The Truth about Publishing - Stanley Unwin (GA&U) though not dealing exclusively with George Allen & Unwin

History of Unwin Brothers printers

The Printing Unwins : a short history of Unwin brothers, the Gresham Press, 1826-1976 - Philip Unwin (GA&U)

Does anyone have any other recommendations?

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May 8, 2010
How much is Tolkien mentioned in these?
May 9, 2010
Thanks all for the information.

Ardamir, not much mention of Tolkien in most of these books, only a couple of sentences apart from Rayner Unwin's George Allen & Unwin - A Remembrancer, which has a lot of information.
May 9, 2010
Anyone know where I could buy a copy of Rayner Unwin's George Allen & Unwin - A Remembrancer? It seems rather hard to come by. I would love to own a copy if anyone knows.
May 9, 2010
I'm sure that Remy would not mind me posting extracts from the email that he received on the subject, from Merlin Unwin, publisher of the book.

"Dear Remy
Thanks for your email. Alas, I am unable to help you with this request.
My father’s book was printed in small numbers (I think 300 from memory) and it is rather frustrating that we under-printed slightly. I have looked into the costs of a small reprint and sadly it looks untenable for us – so really your best bet is to get hold of it from a library or possibly via Hope this is of help and sorry we can’t supply you with your own copy.
Merlin Unwin

Merlin Unwin Books
Palmers House
7 Corve Street
Shropshire SY8 1DB
Tel: 01584 877456
Fax: 01584 877457

I have seen two copies for sale in the last five years, one on eBay (about three years ago) and one very recently on Abebooks (which was withdrawn from sale as it had been sold privately).

If you have not done so already set up a Want on abebooks using the following information, you will get an email if a copy comes up for sale

George Allen & Unwin: A Remembrancer Rayner Unwin. Merlin Unwin Books. ISBN 1873674376

It is also helpful to see what the book looks like so you can keep an eye out for it in second hand bookshops so I have attached a copy of the cover. The spine is also very distinctive in grey and yellow with "George Allen & Unwin" as the title.

Good luck in finding a copy, it is an excellent book.

It may be worth people who are interested in the book contacting Merlin, I see on his web site that he sells limited leather editions of books and I'd assume that if he produced a limited leather edition of this book there is a market of buyers readily available to buy the book (I'd buy a copy).

10_4be66b00e25a7.jpg 1693X2618 px
May 9, 2010
Trotter - sorry, I got the title wrong. The title is 'The Making of The Lord of the Rings' - see this link: ... r=871&catnr=2017&pg=2&br=

It was produced by William A. Meeuws of Thorntons in 1992, in a very limited edition. My copy is no.27.
May 9, 2010
The reply I got regarding Remembrancer back in 2009 was:-

We published the book you are asking about. It was written by Merlin’s father. We only printed about 250 copies which would explain why you have had so much difficulty in getting hold of a copy. Merlin has it in mind to try to get it set up on a print on demand basis and when and if this happens we will be happy to let you know. In the meantime I’m afraid the only option is second-hand booksellers.
Best wishes and thank you for your interest.
Mrs G Bissell
Customer Services

I got an automated email from Abebooks last week too. It arrived in my inbox at ~16:00; but when I went to the link (when I got in from work at ~17:30) it had clearly already been sold. Another email quickly followed this first one; it didn't contain an active link either --presumably sold very quickly.

Damn hard to locate Jlong. The copy on eBay Trotter was sold by Daeron's in March 2007: it went for £158. Only copy I've ever seen on eBay...

The printing numbers & history regarding Rayner's The Making of the Lord of the Rings produced by Wim is also quite complicated. I'm not sure if Wim can quite remember!

May 10, 2010
The printing numbers & history regarding Rayner's The Making of the Lord of the Rings produced by Wim is also quite complicated. I'm not sure if Wim can quite remember!

My copy of The Making of the Lord of the Rings booklet is unnumbered, a later printing than garms, but I seem to remember that it was limited in some way.

The information in the The Making of the Lord of the Rings booklet and the Remembrancer are very similar. The booklet is much easier to get hold of than the book as well and will fill in some of the information from the book.
May 10, 2010
This is an extract from one of my posts on this forum from Feb 2008 regarding the same topic:

"As such, this is not quite a limited edition of 100 copies (There were one or two previous 'Limited' Editions). Thorton's are actually the publishers (Wim Meeuws) and the booklet is currently 'in print' and available.

I believe there were two other limited edition print runs (One being 250 copies and the other 50). I am not sure which was the first print run (possibly the 250 print run).

The current print run of 100 copies is not numbered. The earlier 250 print run is numbered on the back cover. I don't have one from the print run of 50 copies (if this exists - I belive from a previous conversation with Wim, that some/most/all of these may have been lost when he moved)."

In addition there are also 12 copies bound in paper over boards which were printed in addition to the current 2007 Limited Print Run of 100.

I also think that there may have been another 26 copies (Marked A-Z) in addition to the original 250 print run (same softcover binding as the original 250) - not 100% sure about this.

As Khamul stated, it has a complicated printing history and there may well be another print run other than the ones I know about.

And indeed, there are copies from the un-numbered 2007 Print Run of 100 still available for sale even now (on ABE and ILAB).
May 11, 2010
There's also a small pamphlet, Fifty Years of Publishing Books That Matter, issued by Allen & Unwin in 1964. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are both mentioned briefly.

In regard to the Remembrancer, it would be nice to have a print-on-demand copy, to spare our original any further wear. Some typos, etc. could be corrected in the process. Rayner sent most of the copies to friends, relations, and former Allen & Unwin/Unwin Hyman employees, leaving the remainder to Merlin for sale. In his covering note to us, he said: 'You will find much of this rather boring but I think you might like the two Tolkien chapters.' Actually it's all very interesting.

Wayne & Christina
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