The Cambridge University Press story began in 1534 when Henry VIII granted a letters patent, allowing the Press to print ‘all manner of books’. Cambridge published its first book in 1584 making it the oldest university press in the world. Today it remains the publishing business of the University of Cambridge and a global publisher. The small collection of oil paintings reflect historical figures and innovators affiliated with the Press such as John Smith, who became University Printer in the early eighteenth century. Edward Blore was an architect who designed the Pitt Building in 1833, named in honour of William Pitt the Younger. The Pitt Building was created after advances in steam-powered machine presses, which enabled the press to move from small printing offices to a large printing works. Later, the appointment of R. T. Wright as Secretary of the Press Syndicate in 1892 marked the beginning of their development as a modern publishing business. It was Wright (with two great historians, Lord Acton and F. W. Maitland) who devised the plan for one of our most distinctive contributions to publishing – the Cambridge Histories.
Cambridge University Press is a private institution and not all paintings are on display. If you wish to see a painting, please contact the collection.