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A Short History of Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press has a rich history which can be traced back to the earliest days of printing.

The first book was printed in Oxford in 1478, just two years after Caxton set up the first printing press in England. The University was involved with several printers in Oxford over the next century, although there was no formal university press. 

In 1586 the University of Oxford's right to print books was recognized in a decree from the Star Chamber. This was enhanced in the Great Charter secured by Archbishop Laud from King Charles I, which entitled the University to print 'all manner of books'.

Delegates were first appointed by the University to oversee this process in 1633. Minutes of their deliberations are recorded dating back to 1668. The structure of Oxford University Press (OUP) as it exists today began to develop in a recognizable form from that time.

The University also established its right to print the King James Authorized Version of the Bible in the seventeenth century. This Bible Privilege formed the basis of OUP's publishing activities throughout the next two centuries.

From the late 1800s OUP began to expand significantly, opening the first overseas OUP office in New York in 1896. Other international branches followed, including Canada (1904), Australia (1908), India (1912), Southern Africa (1914).

Today OUP has offices in 50 countries, and is the largest university press in the world.

Find out more about our history at the Oxford University Press archive.

Oxford University Press archive

Find out more about our history at the Oxford University Press archive