The Art of Reprinting

Ward, Lock, & Co.

The House of Ward and Lock, as they were originally known, began their first publishing house in 1854 at 158 Fleet Street, London.  Over a vast history of publishing everything from novels, atlases, magazines, to educational materials, their greatest claims to fame actually came riding into existence with the bicycle. Recruiting historians, botanists, map-makers and scouts of all kinds, the company sought to furnish its public with a detailed map and history, and from 1896 until at least the 1950’s became the purveyor of the immensely popular “Red Guides.”

In 1854 Ebenezer and George began their company in London, and throughout the years acquired both new agents, and other publishing houses (sometimes to their own detriment). George Lock’s brother, John Henry Lock, joined the business in 1861, and then the operation moved to a larger residence at Amen Corner, on Paternoster Row. In 1865, due to the admittance of a new partner, Charles T. Tyler, the business changed its name to Ward, Lock, and Tyler.

In 1866 the company acquired the publishing house of Samuel Orchart Beeton, and added him to their staff as well. Beeton, a very successful publisher, had fallen on unbelievably bad luck when the bank that held his life savings dissolved, leaving him bankrupt. To make matters worse, his wife Isabella Beeton (both an acclaimed author and editor), passed away at a very young age, leaving him with children to parent alone. In a very merciful business maneuver, Ward Lock and Tyler acquired Beeton’s business with all of its liabilities and assets, and gave him a place on their staff as editor.  This arrangement suited everyone nicely, until 1872, when Beeton began publishing troublesome pieces for Ward Lock, including some rather erotic material, and worse, parodies of Tennyson’s (the current poet laureate) works. After Ward Lock attempted to squelch these from being published, Beeton simply took them elsewhere to have them published, thereby breaking his contract with Ward, Lock and Bowden, and thenceforth was disassociated from their company.

Besides Ward Lock’s acquisition of Beeton’s firm, another was made, that of the publishing company E. Moxom, Son, and Company. This company was a veritable pot of gold, as its clients included writers such as Tennyson, William Wordsworth, and Robert Browning. In 1873, Tyler left the business for undocumented reasons, and the name reverted back to its origin. Five years later the firm moved to a much larger residence on Salisbury, which they named the Warwick House: it was in that house that the company would see some of its most successful growth, including the expansion of 3 new offices, in Melbourne, Toronto, and New York. The Melbourne office was particularly noteworthy, as it catered to the Australian and Asian Islands, and therefore discovered many authors that would otherwise have been unknown to Western European audiences. The name changed again in 1879, when James Bowden (a former Beeton employee) joined the staff as a manager and editor, making the company Ward, Lock, and Bowden. This became Ward, Lock and Bowden Ltd in 1893.

In 1883, Ebenezer finally retired, and none of his children took his place working for the company. However, when George Lock passed away in 1891 at the age of 60, 4 of his sons succeeded him.

Between 1890 and WWI, business was booming for this company. While still publishing novels, fiction, and works by newer authors, the firm became interested in the more profitable issuance of cheaper reprints. To accommodate their enormous printing demands, the company created at least two off-site binderies for their works. Their publications list grows massive and varied, from books about popular sports, to the aforementioned Red Guides, to novels, and poetry, atlases and dictionaries. Eventually they even started printing their own magazine: the extremely popular, and profitable “Windsor”. This magazine stayed in vogue for at least 45 years after its initial printing, and featured the essays and works of writers such as Rudyard Kipling, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

However, to counteract such good fortune, many misfortunes besieged the company as well.  The Warwick House was desolated by a fire in 1911, but was rebuilt and made even larger, until bombing by the Luftwaffe during WWII caused the firm to finally move altogether.  The Toronto firm also had to be closed during the war due to the heightened costs of productions due to wartime economy.

 In 1943, Leslie Lock, the last remaining son of co-partner George Lock was the head of the business, until joined on staff by Colonel Eric Shipton, a decorated veteran of WWI. The company took up residence for a few short years at 6 Chancery Lane, London, after the bombing of their Warwick house, until a more permanent residence was made at 143 Piccadilly. However, in 1964, the business split in two, creating Ward Lock Educational Ltd, which was bought by Cassell Publishing in 1989. By the early 90’s, Cassell was acquired by the currently existing company, Orion Publishing.

As for The Wide, Wide World, Ward Lock’s first publication of the novel was circa 1873. This company was particularly driven to publish children’s novels extolling pure, Christian beliefs, and good ethics. This is evident from the large amount of prize books that they published with the intent of rewarding good students in school. This piece of sentimental Christian  virtues was almost certainly printed and published with the same intent. As one of Ward Lock’s advertisements for this volume, (part of the “The Home Treasure Library”) read: “It is the intention of the Publishers that a tone of pure morality and lofty aim shall characterize the whole of the volumes in this library” (Ward & Lock’s Illustrated Guide to… 179). The novel was advertised particularly for Christian readers, but understandably, young girls were the primary target, as can be seen from the series they were printed in, such as the Pansy Series, and Lily Series. From surviving copies of this novel, it appears that the House continued reprinting this novel in multiple different collections and volumes from 1875 until 1927.





Dictionary of Literary Biography: British Literary Publishing Houses, 1820-1880. 106. London: Gale Research Inc., 1991. 321-27. Print.


The Publishers' Weekly: American Book-Trade Journal. 67. F. Leypoldt, 1905. 73. eBook.


Liveing, Edward. Adventure in Publishing: the House of Ward Lock 1854-1954. London and Melbourne: Ward Lock, 1954. Print.


Ward & Lock's (Late Shaws) Illustrated Guide to, and Popular History of, The Land of Burns, Including Ayr, Arran, and Dumfries. Warwick House, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street,London: Ward Lock, 1882. 188. eBook.


The Bookseller, A Newspaper of British and Foreign Literature. 12 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Lane, London: J. Whitaker, 1895. 6 . eBook.

 The Publishers' Circular and Booksellers' Record of British and Foreign Literature. LV. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, 1891. 79,150. eBook.