100 years of Allen & Unwin: 1914 – 2014


Today we celebrate a hundred years of Allen & Unwin – a whole century of publishing “Books that matter”!

On the 4th of August 1914, the same day that England declared war on Germany, Stanley Unwin opened up shop as George Allen & Unwin on Museum Street in London, and an incredible history of publishing was born.

George Allen & Unwin at Ruskin House, Museum Street, London
George Allen & Unwin at Ruskin House, 40 Museum Street, London

Much has changed from those early days when Stanley Unwin bought the struggling publishing firm George Allen & Company and turned it into one of the most successful publishing houses in the UK, with the great names of J.R.R. Tolkien (Fellowship of the Rings was published 60 years ago last week), Thor Heyerdahl & Roald Dahl amongst a wide ranging list of esteemed authors.

Patrick Gallagher,
Photo: Anthony Johnson


The company expanded to Australia in the mid 1970s, with Patrick Gallagher arriving in Sydney early in 1976 to set up shop as a one-man band, his managing director’s words ringing in his ears:

“Now then, young Gallagher, don’t you go native!”

Here we are almost 40 years on, with Patrick now chairman!

Having published our first Australian book in 1978, followed by continued expansion during the 1980’s particularly on the fiction side with initiatives such as The Australian/Vogel’s award, a failed merger in Britain prompted an Australian management buyout on 10th July 1990, and Allen & Unwin became Australia’s largest independent publisher.

Since then we’ve continued to grow, and have come full circle, now an Australian company with an outpost in London, as well as our offices in Melbourne and Auckland.

While much has changed in a hundred years, much has remained the same – particularly the fiercely independent spirit established in London which is very much engrained in the company today, along with the belief that books certainly do matter.

You can read more on the history of the company below…

A Hundred Years of Allen & Unwin

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