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Burns & Oates was a British Roman Catholic publishing house which most recently existed as an imprint of Continuum. It was founded by James Burns in 1835, originally as a bookseller. Burns was of Presbyterian background and he gained a reputation as a High Church publisher, producing works by the Tractarians.

Burns & Oates
Parent companyContinuum
FounderJames Burns
SuccessorBloomsbury Academic
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationLondon
Publication typesBooks

In 1847 his business was put in jeopardy when he converted to Catholicism, but the firm was fortunate to receive the support of John Henry Newman, who chose the firm to publish many of his works. There is a story that Newman's novel Loss and Gain was written specifically to assist Burns.

After a while trading as Burns, James Burns took a partner, renaming the company Burns & Lambert. In 1866 they were joined by a younger man, William Wilfred Oates, making the company Burns, Lambert & Oates and later Burns & Oates. Oates was another Catholic convert, and had previously co-founded the publishing house of Austin & Oates based in Bristol. Burns & Oates passed to his son Wilfred Oates, whose sister Mother Mary Salome became one of the firm’s most successful authors. The company was designated ‘Publishers to the Holy See’ by Pope Leo XIII.

In the USA the company's agent was The Catholic Publications Society of New York.


  • Wilfrid Wilberforce, The House of Burns and Oates. London: Burns and Oates, 1908.
  • Early Chapters in the History of Burns and Oates. London: privately printed, 1949.

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