Canongate Books

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Canongate Books
Founded 1973
Country of origin United Kingdom
Headquarters location Edinburgh, Scotland
Distribution The Book Service (UK)
Publication types Books
Official website

Canongate Books (often simply Canongate) is a Scottish independent publishing firm based in Edinburgh; it is named for The Canongate, an area of the city. It is most recognised for publishing the Booker Prizewinner Life of Pi. Canongate was named Publisher of the Year in 2003 and 2009.


Canongate was founded in 1973 by Stephanie Wolfe Murray and her husband Angus Wolfe Murray.[1] Originally a speciality press focusing on Scottish-interest books, generally with small print runs, its most major author was Alasdair Gray. In 1994 it was purchased from the receiver in a management buyout led by Jamie Byng, using funds provided by his stepfather Christopher Bland and his father-in-law Charlie McVeigh, and began to publish more general works, including the Pocket Canons editions of books of the Bible, as well as the Payback Press and Rebel Inc. imprints.[2][3] Byng is now the Publisher and Managing Director of the company.

In June 2010 it was announced that a 'living archive' of Canongate Books was to be established at the University of Dundee in collaboration with the University's Archive Services, which will be used for teaching and research.[4][5]

Partners and joint ventures[edit]

Canongate once had a sister company in Australia, Text Publishing; Canongate's majority interest was sold in 2011.[6] It also has joint venture operations with the children's publisher Walker who will publish selected titles for their Young-adult fiction list.[7] Grove/Atlantic, Inc. publishes under the Canongate U.S. imprint, also under a joint venture arrangement.[8] In March 2010, Canongate and Dirtee Stank announced a joint venture agreement to publish Dizzee Rascal's memoir, although this agreement later fell though.[9]

Canongate is part of the Independent Alliance, a global alliance of ten UK publishers and their international publishing partners.[10] In 2009, the Alliance was the UK's fifth largest publisher.[11]

Enhanced Editions and Canongate also work in partnership in the production of selected books enhanced for the iPhone and iPod Touch.[12] The titles that have been released are: Dreams From My Father, The Audacity of Hope, The Death of Bunny Munro and The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

Notable authors and works[edit]

Julian Assange

  • Julian Assange – the Unauthorised Autobiography (2011). Assange's autobiography was published without his consent, and Canongate and Assange gave differing accounts of the events surrounding publication.[13][14]

The Mighty Boosh

Noel Fielding (with Mighty Boosh member Dave Brown[disambiguation needed])

Nick Cave

  • The Death of Bunny Munro (2009), the second novel by musician Nick Cave,[15] was announced in 2008. It was published in hardback, audiobook, ebook and iPhone application formats in September 2009.

David Eagleman

Michel Faber

  • The Crimson Petal and the White (2002), a historical novel set in Victorian England. Faber followed this with a collection of stories, 'The Apple' (2006).

Alasdair Gray

Matt Haig

  • The Radleys (2010)

Steven Hall

Miranda July

Yann Martel

  • Life of Pi (2001, Canongate edition 2002), the first Scottish-published book to win the Booker Prize or to sell a million copies in its first year.[17] An illustrated hardback edition was published in 2007.
  • Beatrice and Virgil (2010), an allegory of the Holocaust using a donkey named Beatrice and a howler monkey named Virgil.[18]

James Meek (author)

Barack Obama

Philip Pullman

Dizzee Rascal

  • The Dizzee Rascal Story (2010)[20]

David Shrigley

  • What The Hell Are You Doing? (2010)[21]

David Simon

Martin C. Strong [22]

  • The Great Rock Discography, 1st ed. (1994)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 2nd ed. (1995)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 3rd ed. (1996)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 4th ed. (1998)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 5th ed. (2000)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 6th ed. (2002)
  • The Great Rock Discography, 7th ed. (2004)
  • The Great Metal Discography, 1st ed. (1998)
  • The Great Metal Discography, 2nd ed. (2002)
  • The Wee Rock Discography (1996)
  • The Great Alternative & Indie Discography (1999)
  • The Great Indie Discography, 2nd ed. (2003)
  • The Essential Rock Discography (2006)
  • Lights, Camera, Soundtracks (2008)

Scarlett Thomas

Simon Tofield

  • Simon's Cat (2009), the award-winning[23] animation was published in book format in October 2009.[24]

Canongate Myth Series, in which contemporary authors re-imagine ancient myths from a variety of cultures


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jamie Byng and Canongate, Lucinda Byatt, Solander magazine, Historical Novel Society, UK, Vol. 19, May 2006
  2. ^ Canongate Books - The mane man, Catherine Deveney, The Scotsman, 24 October 2005
  3. ^ Bada Byng, bada boom, Iain Sharp,, 9 July 2006
  4. ^ "University and Canongate link to form 'Living Archive'". University of Dundee. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "Canongate Books". Archives records and Artefacts at the University of Dundee. Retrieved 7 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Text Publishing starts next chapter, Jason Steger, The Age, 26 June 2004
  7. ^ Canongate and Walker create joint young adult imprint, Catherine Neilan, The Bookseller, 15 December 2009
  8. ^ Modest helping of Pi brings slimmer profits at Canongate, Paul Rogerson, The Herald, 3 November 2005
  9. ^ Rascal teams up with Scottish publisher. Phil Miller, The Herald, 5 March 2010
  10. ^ Independent Alliance
  11. ^ Indie Alliance becomes ‘fifth biggest publisher’, Catherine Neilan, The Bookseller, 24 January 2010
  12. ^
  13. ^ Assange, Julian (22 September 2011). "Julian Assange: Statement on the Unauthorised, Secret Publishing of the Julian Assange "autobiography" by Canongate". Wikileaks. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Davies, Nick (22 September 2011). "Why we are publishing Julian Assange's (unauthorised) autobiography". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  15. ^ Canongate buys Nick Cave novel, Catherine Neilan, Bookseller, 12 September 2008
  16. ^ Stephen Fry's Twitter posts on David Eagleman novel sparks 6000% sales spike, The Telegraph, 11 September 2009
  17. ^ Life Of Pi hits one million sales as Spielberg eyes movie chance, Liam McDougall, Sunday Herald, 10 August 2003
  18. ^ Pi author plans Holocaust novel, BBC, 31 October 2009
  19. ^ Canongate pulls off Obama coup
  20. ^ Dizzee Rascal memoir to Canongate
  21. ^ Interview: David Shrigley, artist
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ Canongate buys Simon's Cat, Catherine Neilan, Bookseller, 13 January 2009
  25. ^, Canongate ... I liked it so much I bought the company
  26. ^ Award-winning film-maker scoops short story prize, Richard Lea, Guardian, 24 September 2007
  27. ^ British Book Design and Production Awards 2008 - Winners
  28. ^ Former Vietnamese refugee claims Dylan Thomas Prize, CBC, 11 November 2008
  29. ^ Barack Obama triumphs at British Book Awards with Dreams From My Father, Murray Wardrop, The Daily Telegraph, 4 April 2009
  30. ^ Obama helps Canongate become publisher of the year, Alison Flood, Guardian, 2 June 2009
  31. ^, Alison Flood, Guardian, 29 May 2009
  32. ^ Vietnamese refugee wins Australian prime minister's award for fiction, Alison Flood, Guardian, 3 November 2009

External links[edit]