The Cresset Press was a publishing company in London, England, active as an independent press from 1927 for 40 years, and initially specializing in "expensively illustrated limited editions of classical works, like Milton's Paradise Lost" going on to produce well-designed trade editions of literary and political works. Among the leading illustrators commissioned by Cresset were Blair Hughes-Stanton and Gertrude Hermes — The Pilgrim's Progress (1928), The Apocrypha (1929), and D. H. Lawrence's Birds, Beasts and Flowers (1930). Cresset subsequently became part of the Barrie Group of publishers, and later an imprint of the Ebury Press within the Random House Group.
Bacon’s Essays, in folio, printed at the Shakespeare Head, was followed by a number of handsome éditions de luxe, of which the best known today is Gulliver’s Travels decorated by Rex Whistler. An early member of the Double Crown Club, he paid scrupulous attention to the matching of fine hand-press-work with enterprising illustrations, commissioned a number of the best wood-engravers of the day for editions of The Apocrypha or The Pilgrim’s Progress or, on a smaller scale, the elegant four-volume Herrick printed in Oxford’s Fell type, with decorations by Albert Rutherston.
When the market for books like these collapsed in the thirties, the Cresset Press turned to general publishing, matching best sellers like Nora Waln and John O’Hara with poets like Ruth Pitter and scholars like George Sansom, John Summerson and C. P. Fitzgerald. With John Howard as literary adviser the list always contained a strong component of belles lettres (the Cresset Library was a uniquely imaginative series of punctiliously edited reprints), and with James Shand of Shenval Press in charge of production Dennis Cohen’s feeling for the look of his books found a continuing if less luxurious expression.
Other prestigious authors included Carson McCullers. The Cresset Press published the British editions of all her novels and when, in 1951, McCullers spent three months in England, Cohen gave a large reception in her honour that was attended by the leading literati of the day.
When the publishing company's two owners retired in 1966, the Cresset Press — characterised as having "a distinguished small list" — became part of the Barrie Group of publishers (which previously comprised Barrie & Rockliff, Herbert Jenkins and Hammond & Hammond). After the take-over, Cohen and Howard continued as directors in advisory capacities, and books were produced under the imprint "Barrie and Rockliff/The Cresset Press".
Cresset is now an imprint of the Ebury Press within the Random House Group, but no titles are currently in print. The company is recorded as "non-trading or ceased to trade", but as of June 2012[update] still files annual returns at Companies House.
- "Cresset-Press". Private/Fine Presses. Artunderwraps/ True1st.com. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
- Galya Diment, A Russian Jew of Bloomsbury: The Life and Times of Samuel Koteliansky, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2011, p. 229. Diment elaborates: "The inaugural publications of 1927 and 1928 were all limited editions. They included richly illustrated folio volumes of Bacon's Essays, and Coulers of Good and Evil and Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress. Then came translations of Ovid and The Iliad, as well as books onEnglish foxhunting, angling, and gardening. In 1929 the press continued with classics, including and edition of Gulliver's Travels, illustrated by John 'Rex' Whistler, a former Slade student whose mural decorations were exhibited at the Tate Gallery."
- AP News Archive, 7 February 1988, "Marghanita Laski dies at 72": "She is survived by her husband, publisher John [Eldred] Howard, who founded the Cresset Press".
- R. W. Burchfield, "Laski, Marghanita (1915–1988)", rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
- Cassirer and Cohen - draft family genealogy, reproduces "Obituary: Mr Dennis Cohen - Publisher and connoisseur" from The Times, 26 February 1970 (not 2 Feb as cited), page 12.
- Virginia Spencer Carr, The Lonely Hunter: A Biography of Carson McCullers, Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2003, p. 376.
- Frank Arthur Mumby, Ian Norrie, Publishing and Bookselling: Part one: From the earliest times to 1870, London: Jonathan Cape, 1974, p. 497.
- The Publisher, Volumes 180-181, Publishers Circular, Ltd, 1966.
- Ion Trewin, Obituary: James Barrie, The Guardian, 24 July 2000.
- "Cresset". The Random House Group. Retrieved 5 September 2012.
- "The Cresset Press Limited". Duedil. Retrieved 5 September 2012.