Founded in 1795
Constable and Co was founded in 1795 when Archibald Constable, an Edinburgh bookseller, opened a shop and began to publish a few original works under his own name. Thus was one of the first independent UK publishing houses started, and over the decades it became known as a house of excellence, publishing such names as Sir Walter Scott, Henry James, George Bernard Shaw and Bram Stoker.
In 1999 Constable merged with another independent headed by Nick Robinson, Robinson Publishing, and became Constable & Robinson Ltd, publishing in a variety of fields including fiction, non-fiction, psychology, humour, brief histories and how to books. In 2012 C&R became Independent Publisher of the Year at both the Bookseller Awards and the IPG awards, and in 2014 the company was purchased by Little, Brown.
The fiction division of Constable specialises primarily in crime. Constable Crime has been going now for half a century and over these 50 years it has had its share of high profile, award winning authors including Patrick Hamilton and R D Wingfield. The best-known of our current bestselling authors is the much-loved M C Beaton who writes two series for us. Hamish Mabeth is a lanky, redhaired Highlands policeman while Agatha Raisin is an irascible, irresistible PR supremo turned PI dynamo, based in the Cotswolds.
But the range of the list is broad – as well as more traditional crime we have thrillers set in South Africa, police procedurals based in Glasgow, sleuthing vicars and restaurateurs, and eighteenth century anatomists just starting in the field of forensic science.
Known for its breadth and vitality, Constable’s commercial and literary nonfiction encompasses biography, memoir, gift and humour, sport, history, popular science and culture. In recent years we have gained a reputation for producing idiosyncratic bestsellers. Quentin Letts’ 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain, Chrissie Wellington’s A Life Without Limits and The Living Years by Genesis founder, Mike Rutherford, are just a few of our books to have made The Sunday Times bestseller lists.
Constable continues to be one of the most successful imprints in the UK for gift and humour titles. The acerbic Bill Hicks skewered his subjects in Love All the People, while Jen Campbell’s oddity Weird Things Customers say in Bookshops delighted bibliophiles. In 2012 the wonderfully eccentric Dear Lupin by Roger and Charlie Mortimer was selected as The Sunday Times ‘Humour Book of the Year’. Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd’s, We’re Going on a Bar Hunt and The Very Hungover Caterpillar have proved popular parodies of classic children’s books.
Constable also publishes a number of high-quality illustrated titles, including Joan Collins’ Passion for Life and bestselling cookery titles from the ever-popular Jo Wheatley, winner of the BBC’s Great British Bake Off. The National Garden Scheme’s Yellow Book remains a perennial success.