|Predecessor(s)||W.R.Chambers Publishers and
George G. Harrap and Company Ltd
|Founded||First publication in 1819|
Chambers Harrap Publishers (Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd) is a reference publisher formerly based in Edinburgh, Scotland, which held the property rights of the venerable W.R.Chambers Publishers and its competitor George G. Harrap and Company (founded: 1901).
 History of Chambers
Chambers was founded as "W. & R. Chambers Publishers" by the two brothers William Chambers of Glenormiston and Robert Chambers. They were born into a rich, mill-owning family in Peebles in Scotland in 1800 and 1802 respectively, during the time of the war with France. The war impoverished the family and, in 1813, the family left Peebles for Edinburgh. Robert remained at home to finish his education, but William was forced to find work to support his parents. He was a keen reader and would get up early in the morning to read by the dawn light because he was too poor to buy candles. He was apprenticed to a bookseller, at the sum of 4 shillings a week. Robert, also an avid reader, could not go to university when he finished school because his parents could not afford to pay. He too moved to Edinburgh, rented a one-roomed shop in Leith Walk, and set himself up as a bookseller when he was just 16 years old. William's apprenticeship came to an end when he turned 18 and he joined Robert working in the shop.
Although they had had a modest beginning, the brothers began to do well. They had no training in printing and binding but together they printed, bound and published 750 copies of The Songs of Robert Burns in around 1819. This was the nearest thing to a guaranteed best-seller in 19th-century Edinburgh, and brought further profits and some fame.
In 1824, Robert wrote and the brothers published Traditions of Edinburgh. Education was always the main priority for William and Robert. In 1832, they published The Chambers Journal, a weekly newspaper containing articles on subjects such as history, religion, language and science, many of which were written by Robert himself. It was an immediate success and within a few years the weekly circulation had risen to 84,000 copies. This put an end to their struggle to survive although they still had to work hard.
Chambers published an extensive list of innovative and ultra-reliable language and reference titles, covering English-language dictionaries, thesauruses, bilingual dictionaries, and specialist titles on subjects such as biography, quotations, literary characters, science and technology and world history.
At the end of 2009, the parent company shut the Edinburgh premises of Chambers Harrap Publishers. The Chambers imprint is now managed from London by Hodder Education, while Harrap titles are edited in Paris.
 Chambers List
Chambers Harrap Publishers is best known for its flagship title, The Chambers Dictionary, which contains more words and definitions than any other single-volume dictionary and is known for its occasionally humorous definitions. The Chambers list is currently split into the following areas:
- Language Reference
- Subject Reference
- School Range
- Adult Learners' Range
Chambers purchased the formerly independent Harrap's in the early 1990s. Harrap mainly publishes bilingual dictionaries, for instance Harrap's Shorter French Dictionary. The Harrap list also includes study aids, slang dictionaries, phrasebooks and business dictionaries. In the UK, Harrap publishes bilingual titles in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, German and Polish.
Recently Chambers has started selling Harrap publications under the "Chambers" imprint. It is not known whether the name "Harrap's" will continue in use.
At the end of 2007 Chambers Harrap Publishers acquired the rights to publish the renowned British slang lexicographer Jonathon Green's Slang Dictionary as Chambers Slang Dictionary, originally published by Cassell of the Orion Publishing Group. This new edition was published in October 2008.
 See also
- For other history and founders:
- Chambers's Encyclopaedia
- The Chambers Dictionary
- Harrap's Shorter French Dictionary
- William Chambers of Glenormiston
- Ebenezer Cobham Brewer
- Chambers Harrap Publishers
- Chambers Reference Online
- Chambers Catalogue
- Harrap Catalogue
- Harrap France
- A History of Chambers Harrap
 Further reading
- Fyfe, Aileen (2012). Steam-Powered Knowledge: William Chambers and the Business of Publishing, 1820-1860. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-27651-9.