Religious Tract Society

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Illustration from ”The Sunday at Home”, 1880, one of their publications.

The Religious Tract Society, founded 1799, 56 Paternoster Row and 65 St. Paul's Chuchyard and 164 Piccadilly, was the original name of a major British publisher of Christian literature intended initially for evangelism, and including literature aimed at children, women, and the poor.

The RTS is also notable for being the publisher of the Boys' Own Paper[1] and Girl's Own Paper.

Founding group[edit]

At the foundation of the Religious Tract Society, there was support from bishops, including Shute Barrington (Durham) and Beilby Porteus (London).[2] The founding group included:

The founders were drawn from of the same group of evangelicals who founded the London Missionary Society in 1795, and the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804.

Publications[edit]

The society started by publishing tracts, but rapidly expanded their work into the production of books and periodicals. Their books were mostly small but did include larger works such as the multi-volume Devotional Commentary and the massive Analytical Concordance to the Bible of Robert Young.

From the 1860s, the Society began publishing novels aimed at women and children, providing a platform for a new generation of women writers, including Rosa Nouchette Carey. [7]

20th century changes[edit]

In 1935 the RTS merged with the Christian Literature Society for India and Africa to form the United Society for Christian Literature (USCL). In 1931, there was a change of imprint to Lutterworth Press for all RTS publications intended for the home market.

Works[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • William Jones, The Jubilee Memorial of the Religious Tract Society. London, The Religious Tract Society, 1850, 706 pages. Gives a full description of the first fifty years and remains the indispensable guide to the foundation of the Society
  • Samuel G. Green, The Story of the Religious Tract Society for one hundred years. London, Religious Tract Society, 1899, 216 pages. Brings the story up to the centenary, but is much less illuminating
  • Gordon Hewitt, Let the People Read . . .London, Lutterworth Press, 1949, 96 pages. Illustrations by Richard Kennedy
  • Aileen Fyfe, Science and Salvation: Evangelical Popular Science Writing in Victorian Britain. Chicago, Illinois, University of Chicago Press, 2004, 432 pages. ISBN 978-0-226-27648-9. Deals with one aspect of the Society's publishing programme
  • Dennis Butts and Pat Garrett (ed.), From the Dairyman's Daughter to Worrals of the WAAF: The Religious Tract Society, Lutterworth Press and Children's Literature. Concentrates on the contribution to children's writing from the foundation onwards.

See also[edit]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Jules Verne: Boys Own Paper / Boys Own Annual - ANash
  2. ^ Varley, E. A. "Barrington, Shute". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/1534.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. ^ Laird, Michael. "Bogue, David". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/2766.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ Carter, Grayson. "Hawker, Robert". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/12655.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ Chadwick, Rosemary. "Hughes, Joseph". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/47091.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  6. ^ Gregory, Stephen. "Hardcastle, Joseph". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/54059.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ Women in the Literary Marketplace http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/womenLit/literary_market/Religious_Tract_S_L.htm