Eyre & Spottiswoode

Eyre & Spottiswoode was the London-based printing firm that was the King's Printer, and subsequently, a publisher prior to being incorporated. In April 1929, it was incorporated as Eyre & Spottiswoode (Publishers) Ltd.. It became part of Associated Book Publishers in 1958 and merged with Methuen in the 1970s with the resulting company known as Eyre Methuen.

Eyre & Spottiswoode
FounderGeorge Edward Eyre
Andrew Spottiswoode
SuccessorMethuen Publishing
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationLondon
Publication typesBooks


The crest of the King's Printer, London, on the spine of a King James Version bible published by Eyre & Spottiswoode

William Strahan established his printing house in London in 1739 and by 1769 had a share in both the King's Printing House and the Law Printing House. George Edward Eyre and Andrew Spottiswoode were printers to the Queen's most excellent majesty for Her Majesty's Stationery Office in 1845. Their sons subsequently ran the business.

In the 19th century, the firm had a printing works at Shacklewell. The firm was re-appointed King's Printer after the accession of King Edward VII in May 1901.[1]

Douglas Jerrold became a director in 1929, when it incorporated as a publishing house, became chairman in 1945, and retired in 1958. Between 1944 and 1948, Graham Greene was his director, in charge of developing its fiction list. Greene created The Century Library series, which was discontinued after he left following a conflict with Jerrold regarding Anthony Powell's contract. In 1958, Greene was offered the position of chairman by Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, but declined.[2]

"The Printers' Battalion"Edit

The 2nd City of London Rifle Volunteer Corps was founded in 1860 as one of many such regiments raised in response to an invasion scare. Recruited in the Fleet Street area, largely from Eyre & Spottiswoode's printing works, it was known as "the Printers' Battalion". Among the first officers to be commissioned into the unit were George A. Spottiswoode and William Spottiswoode.[3][4][5] When the unit became the 6th Battalion London Regiment (City of London Rifles) in the new Territorial Force in 1908, G Company was still mainly recruited from the company's employees.[6]

The Protocols of the Elders of ZionEdit

Title page of the 1920 first British & English-language edition of the Protocols of the [Learned] Elders of Zion

In 1920, the firm was the first in the United Kingdom to print a translation of the notorious antisemitic text The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with the additional title The Jewish Peril. Norman Cohn points out that a distinction is to be made between the printer and the publisher of the same name. The book, or rather pamphlet, shows it was printed by "EYRE & SPOTTISWOODE, LTD."[7]

It seems that this edition of the Protocols was printed to private commission and therefore bears the imprint of the printers, Eyre & Spottiswoode Ltd[.], instead of a publisher's imprint. The firm of Eyre & Spottiswoode (Publishers) Ltd was not founded until April 1929.[8]

Book seriesEdit


  1. ^ "No. 27318". The London Gazette. 28 May 1901. p. 3634.
  2. ^ Sherry, Norman (2004). The Life of Graham Greene: 1939-1955. Volume two. Viking. ISBN 978-0-14-200421-0.
  3. ^ Beckett, p. 70 and Appendix VII.
  4. ^ Westlake, p. 161.
  5. ^ Godfrey, p. 2.
  6. ^ Godfrey, p. 11.
  7. ^ Cohn 1996.
  8. ^ Cohn (1996), footnote 4, p. 167
  9. ^ Century Library, owu.edu. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  10. ^ Graham Greene’s “The Century Library”: Neglected English Fiction Classics, neglectedbooks.com. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  11. ^ Country Library, owu.edu. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  12. ^ Highways to the Sun (Eyre and Spottiswoode) - Book Series List, publishinghistory.com. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  13. ^ The Kew Series (Eyre & Spottiswoode) - Book Series List, publishinghistory.com. Retrieved 2 January 2018.

Further readingEdit

  • R. A. Austen-Leigh, The Story of a Printing House, 2nd edition, 1912.
  • Ian F. W. Beckett, Riflemen Form: A study of the Rifle Volunteer Movement 1859–1908, Aldershot: Ogilby Trusts, 1982, ISBN 0-85936-271-X.
  • Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide (London: Serif, 1996).
  • Capt E. G. Godfrey, The "Cast Iron Sixth": A History of the Sixth Battalion London Regiment (The City of London Rifles), London: Old Comrades' Association, 1935//Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2002, ISBN 1-84342-170-4.
  • Ray Westlake, Tracing the Rifle Volunteers, Barnsley: Pen and Sword, 2010, ISBN 978-1-84884-211-3.

External linksEdit