J. W. Arrowsmith

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Logo of J. W. Arrowsmith as used in 1891
The title page of Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome (1889).

J. W. Arrowsmith Ltd was a book printer and publisher based in Bristol, England.[1] It became a limited company in 1911, having been an unincorporated company named Arrowsmith. It was closed in 2006.

The company published the first edition of the novel Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome in 1889.[2] Also published by J. W. Arrowsmith were:


The business began in 1854 when Isaac Arrowsmith moved to Bristol from Worcester. Isaac Arrowsmith was a founder member of the Worcester Typographical Society.[3] Arrowsmith and Hugh Evans, a stationer on Clare Street, published a railway timetable for a penny, an original copy of which is held at the British Museum.[4] When Isaac died in 1871 his son, James Williams Arrowsmith, ventured into general publishing.[4] Arrowsmith's first success came in 1883 with Hugh Conway's ‘Called Back’ was reviewed positively by Henry Labouchère in ’Truth’.[4]

JW Arrowsmith was friends with the famous Bristolian cricketer, WG Grace, so published Grace's book entitled 'Cricket'.[5] Their surviving letters show the process was not a smooth one:

Dear Arrowsmith,
It is very annoying to think you won’t do the little book as I wish. If you do it at all, why not properly? The specimen you have sent is too common a style.
Yours in haste,
WG Grace[4]

In 1930 Arrowsmiths published the first of the Bristol Record Society's volumes, with transcriptions of historic records of Bristol, primarily material held at Bristol Archives.[4] During the second world war the Arrowsmith's factory hosted seven local competitors whose sites had been destroyed.[4] In 1952 a 27,000 foot factory on Winterstoke Road, Bristol, was begun, finally alleviating the company's pressure to expand from the small, inadequate factory on Quay Street.[4] Arrowsmith remains a publishing imprint.


The records of J. W. Arrowsmith are held at Bristol Archives (Ref. 40145) (online catalogue) along with copies of many of their publications.


  1. ^ "J W Arrowsmith Ltd". iAvon, UK. Retrieved August 6, 2011.
  2. ^ Jerome, Jerome K. (1889). Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog). J. W. Arrowsmith. ISBN 0-7653-4161-1.
  3. ^ "National Archives Discovery Catalogue page, Records of JW Arrowsmith". Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g ’Arrowsmith Printers, 1854-1954’, 1955, JW Arrowsmith
  5. ^ Wikisource link to Cricket (Grace). Wikisource. 

External links[edit]