Founded in 1795
Constable and Co was founded in 1795 when Archibald Constable, an Edinburgh bookseller, opened a shop and began to publish 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, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw, Elizabeth Bowen and B. S. Johnson.
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. To this day it remains a list that is defined by not only prestige but also commerciality.
Known for its breadth and vitality, Constable’s commercial and literary non-fiction encompasses biography, memoir, gift and humour, music, sport, history, politics and culture. In recent years, the imprint has gained a reputation for producing idiosyncratic bestsellers such as James Kerr’s Legacy, Francis Rossi’s I Talk Too Much and 50 People Who Buggered Up Britain by Quentin Letts.
Home to some of the biggest names in music and sport, Constable’s authors include Mike Rutherford, Noddy Holder, Stephen Morris, DJ David Rodigan and Carly Simon. Recent Sunday Times bestsellers include Ian Wright’s A Life in Football and triathlete Chrissie Wellington’s A Life Without Limits, while former England cricket captain Mike Brearley’s On Cricket was a Times Sports Book of the Year.
Constable is also one of the most successful imprints in the UK for gift and humour. Dear Lupin, by Roger and Charlie Mortimer, delighted readers with its wonderful eccentricity, earning a place on the Sunday Times bestsellers list. 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, while Titania McGrath’s genius satirical spoof, Woke, couldn’t be more of the moment.
Politics, too, is an integral part of Constable and it is proud to publish galvanising titles from Harry Leslie Smith’s passionate call to arms, Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future, to Tottenham MP David Lammy’s Tribes. International literary heavyweights such as Jorge Galán, Alexis Wright and Eduardo Galeano round out an incredibly diverse list.
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 Macbeth is a lanky, redhaired Highlands policeman while Agatha Raisin is an irascible, irresistible PR supremo turned PI dynamo, based in the Cotswolds. This year sees the publication of M C Beaton’s 30th Agatha Raisin mystery, which coincides with the second TV series on Sky. Other recent successes on the list have been Philip Gwynne Jones’s wonderfully evocative Venetian crime series, M W Craven’s thrilling detective series set in Cumbria featuring Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw, and Craig Russell’s outstanding The Devil Aspect, which Columbia Pictures pre-empted the film rights in on reading the original typescript.
So the range of the list is broad – as well as traditional crime we have thrillers set in Morocco, Iceland and Singapore, police procedurals based in Cambridge and the West Country, sleuthing vicars and restaurateurs, and nineteenth century cross dressing apothecaries solving murders in crime-raddled London.