Plough Publishing House
Plough Publishing House is a non-profit publisher affiliated with the Bruderhof communities and located in Walden, New York, with international offices in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, UK and Elsmore, New South Wales, Australia.
|Parent company||Bruderhof Communities|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||Walden, New York|
|Distribution||Ingram Publisher Services|
|Publication types||Books, Magazines|
Founded in 1920 in Germany, Plough publishes books on faith, society, and culture, including non-fiction, poetry, children’s books, and graphic novels. Authors published by Plough include Eberhard Arnold, Pope Francis, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Henri J. M. Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Christoph Blumhardt, Óscar Romero, and Johann Christoph Arnold.
Plough also publishes a print and digital magazine, Plough Quarterly. Contributors to the magazine include N. T. Wright, Navid Kermani, Russell Moore, Shane Claiborne, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, and Naomi Shehab Nye.
The publishing house’s origins are in the Neuwerk-Verlag, a publishing house launched by the Protestant theologian Eberhard Arnold and his circle in Sannerz, Germany in 1920. The Neuwerk-Verlag had been incorporated the previous year.
With Eberhard Arnold as editorial director, the publishing house put out a biweekly magazine (later monthly), titled Das Neue Werk (“The New Work”). Early contributors included not only prominent authors such as Karl Barth, Martin Buber, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy, but also radicals such as Rosa Luxemburg, Kurt Eisner, Pyotr Kropotkin, and Gustav Landauer. Never shy of controversy, the magazine proposed early Christianity and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount as the solution to contemporary problems. It was closely associated with the German Youth Movement, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the religious socialists inspired by the Blumhardts.
In the same vein, Arnold launched a line of books that would define the publishing house’s profile in years to come, including songbooks, short story collections, and non-fiction titles on early Christianity, mysticism, the Radical Reformation, educational reform, communitarianism, and confronting anti-Semitism. Under art director Else von Hollander, the publishing house placed a high priority on visual design, drawing on expressionist artists as well as graphic artists such as the type designer Rudolf Koch.
Re-organized as the “Eberhard-Arnold-Verlag” in 1924, the publishing house was headquartered in the village of Sannerz at the Christian intentional community that Arnold had co-founded, which was later known as the Bruderhof.
After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, the publishing house came under increasing pressure from the Nazi regime, with several police raids. Booksellers in Germany refused to carry its titles, leaving Switzerland as virtually its only market. Its print shop and bindery could be relocated to England before the German publishing operation was forcibly closed by the Gestapo in 1937.
As refugees from Nazi Germany, the publishing house’s staff re-grouped in Ashton Keynes, England, and almost immediately began publishing books and pamphlets in both English and German. They chose “Plough,” a name already used by the Neuwerk-Verlag, as the name for both the re-founded publishing house and for its quarterly magazine, The Plough. Among its contributors were Aldous Huxley, Laurence Housman (brother of the poet A. E. Housman), and Eric Gill. In 1940 after the outbreak of World War I, the British government arranged for the Bruderhof members, all pacifists, to emigrate to Paraguay; as a result, Plough’s publishing went largely dormant for the duration of the war.
Plough Publishing House in Britain resumed publishing in 1950, starting with a collaboration with Hodder & Stoughton. Its UK headquarters was now Wheathill Bruderhof in Bromdon, Shropshire; the Spanish-language edition of The Plough was published as El Arado in Montevideo, Uruguay. By the end of the 1950s, Plough was publishing its magazine in 11 languages, including Esperanto.
Plough’s headquarters moved to the United States in 1964, with the main office and print shop located at the Bruderhof community in Farmington, Pennsylvania. Type was set by hand until 1966, when a linotype machine was purchased. The print shop was staffed largely by young men doing their alternative service as conscientious objectors under the Selective Service system. Starting in 1965, Johann Christoph Arnold, a grandson of founding editor Eberhard Arnold, served as managing director.
The Plough, the quarterly magazine, began appearing in an American edition in 1983. Frequent topics included global Christianity, reconciliation and peacemaking, evangelism, Anabaptism, intentional community, and death penalty abolition.
In the 1990s through 2002, Plough increased the tempo of its publishing and broadened its ecumenical focus, putting out titles on Kierkegaard, Sadhu Sundar Singh, and Andre Trocme. Johann Christoph Arnold’s books on forgiveness, grieving, and children’s education were house bestsellers, as were memoirs such as Misty Bernall’s account of the Columbine school shooting, She Said Yes.
Plough was relaunched as a trade publisher of print books in 2013, publishing 12 English-language titles per year. (Plough had been publishing digital-only since 2003.) Plough titles are distributed worldwide by Ingram Publisher Services. In addition, Plough publishes books in Spanish, German, French, Arabic, and Korean. Plough Publishing House is a branch of Church Communities Foundation, a New York 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.
Plough Quarterly, a magazine of stories, culture and ideas, was launched in June 2014. It quickly garnered awards, including Library Journal’s “Top Ten Magazines of the Year.” Author Philip Yancey calls it “the richest publication I get these days,” while Methodist bishop William Willimon finds it “an essential part of my ministry.”
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