Wakefield Press (Australia)

Wakefield Press is an independent publishing company based in the Adelaide suburb of Mile End, South Australia. They publish 35-40 titles a year in many genres and on many topics, with a special focus on South Australian stories.

Wakefield Press
1989 (5th incarnation)
FoundersHarry Muir (original)
Revived by Government of South Australia in early 1980s
SuccessorMichael Bollen (from 1989)
Country of origin Australia
Headquarters locationAdelaide
Key peopleMichael Bollen, Margot Lloyd, Jo Case
Publication typesbooks
Nonfiction topicsHistory
food & wine
environment, etc.
Fiction genresLiterary fiction
popular fiction
young adult fiction
Official websitewakefieldpress.com.au

In 2019, the publisher celebrated its 30th anniversary under its current management and name.


A publishing company under the name The Wakefield Press[1] was founded in 1942 by Adelaide bookseller Harry Muir (1909-1991), owner of Beck Book Company Limited in Pulteney Street.[2] His intention was to publish small, historical monographs which he believed would otherwise go unread. The company's first publication was A Checklist of Ex-Libris Literature Published in Australia, owing to Muir's interest in bookplates. The press operated out of the bookshop from the 1940s to 1960s.[3]

In the 1980s, the state government re-established the name as Wakefield Press, as part of the state's sesquicentenary (150-year anniversary) celebrations, and a series of histories was published.[3]

As proprietor of the monthly cultural magazine the Adelaide Review, Christopher Pearson bought the name of the Wakefield Press from the South Australian government and operated the company from 1986 to 1988.[3]

Michael Bollen, who had worked with Pearson, took over the company in 1989, with Stephanie Johnston buying in a year or so later.[3] They moved to premises in The Parade West, Kent Town, where they stayed until relocation to Mile End in August–September 2014.[4]

Current managementEdit

As of April 2019 under the directorship of Michael Bollen, Wakefield publishes 35-40 titles each year on a diverse range of topics, including literary and popular fiction, young adult fiction and a range of non-fiction topics.[5] They retain their focus on Australian authors and topics, particularly South Australian.[2]

They have boosted their focus on young adult fiction, with editor Margot Lloyd as publisher of the Young Adult list. They successfully launched Making Friends with Alice Dyson by Adelaide first-time author Poppy Nwosu in 2019. The management team believe that they can take risks that larger companies, being controlled by their marketing departments, cannot take.[2]

They have a backlist of around 500 titles, and a growing e-book list.[5]

Notable publicationsEdit

  • Ochre and Rust: Artefacts and Encounters on Australian Frontiers, by Philip Jones, Senior Curator at the South Australian Museum, won the non-fiction prize in the inaugural Prime Minister's Literary Awards in 2008.[6][7]
  • Mallee Boys by Charlie Archbold[8] was awarded Honour Book for Older Readers in the 2018 Children's Book Council of Australia Awards.[9]
  • Red Professor: The Cold War Life of Fred Rose, by Peter Monteath and Valerie Munt,[10] was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards Prize for Australian History in 2016.
  • An Unsentimental Bloke: The life and work of C.J. Dennis, by Philip Butterss[11] won the National Biography Award in 2015.
  • Places Women Make: Unearthing the contribution of women to our cities, by Jane Jose[12] won the 2016 Bates Smart Award for Architecture in Media.
  • Stephen Orr, who has been longlisted and shortlisted for several literary awards over his long career with Wakefield, was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award for the second time in 2016, for The Hands.[13]

Many of Wakefield's books have achieved Australian bestseller status, including The Vanished Land, by Richard Zachariah,[14] The Home of the Blizzard, by Sir Douglas Mawson,[15][2] One Magic Square, by Lolo Houbein,[16] Behind the Veil, by Lydia Laube,[17][2] Your Brick Oven, by Russell Jeavons,[18] and Mallee Boys.


Wakefield Press have partnerships with the Australian Association for the Teaching of English, the Narungga Aboriginal Progress Association, the South Australian Living Artists Festival, and a newly formed publishing partnership with the Hawke Research Institute for Sustainable Societies at the University of South Australia.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Its name originates from Edward Gibbon Wakefield, an early figure in the colonisation of South Australia, after whom several landmarks are named.
  2. ^ a b c d e Marsh, Walter (April 2019). "Turning the page (online title "Wakefield Press turns the page on 30 years")" (470). Adelaide Review: 10. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d "Wakefield Press". AustLit. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  4. ^ "News: 20/08/2014 - We're moving!". Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b "About us". Wakefield Press. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  6. ^ "PM's Award Writes Author's History". University of Adelaide: Adelaidean. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  7. ^ Bogle, Deborah (6 August 2008). "Adelaide author Philip Jones on PM's book awards shortlist". Adelaide Now. The Advertiser. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  8. ^ Mallee Boys Mallee Boys
  9. ^ CBCA Awards 2018
  10. ^ Red Professor: The Cold War Life of Fred Rose
  11. ^ An Unsentimental Bloke: The life and work of C.J. Dennis
  12. ^ Places Women Make: Unearthing the Contribution of Women to our Cities
  13. ^ The Hands
  14. ^ The Vanished Land
  15. ^ The Home of the Blizzard
  16. ^ One Magic Square
  17. ^ Behind the Veil
  18. ^ Your Brick Oven

External linksEdit