Joseph Whitaker (publisher)

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68 Silver Street
Plaque to Whitaker on 68 Silver Street

Joseph Whitaker (4 May 1820 – 15 May 1895) was a publisher who founded Whitaker's Almanack.

Early life[edit]

Joseph Whitaker was born in London, and apprenticed to a bookseller at the age of fourteen.


After years of experience at various bookselling firms, he undertook his own business as a publisher, first as J. Whitaker and later as J. Whitaker & Sons. Early publications were theological works. In January 1858 he launched The Bookseller and in 1869 published the first issue of Whitaker's Almanack, a reference annual, which met with immediate (and lasting) success.

In 1874 he launched the Reference Catalogue of Current Literature,[1] whose goal to "anthologiz[e] publishers' catalogues".[2] This reference work went though numerous editions.

He helped "organize and distribute relief funds for Parisian booksellers"[2] following the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71).

Personal life[edit]

He was the father of fifteen children; the eldest, Joseph Vernon Whitaker was editor of the American Literary Gazette, and later returned to England to become editor of the Bookseller and the Reference Catalogue. Cuthbert Whitaker, the twelfth child, succeeded his father as editor of the Almanack.

A fourth-generation descendant, David Whitaker, was involved with the development of International Standard Book Numbers.[3]

Whitaker died at 68 Silver Street, Enfield, on 15 May 1895, where he had lived since 1862. He was buried at West Norwood Cemetery.[4]

The British bookseller and publisher George Byrom Whittaker (1793–1847) was not related to Joseph Whittaker.

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ A Reference catalogue of current literature : a national inclusive book reference index of books and prints and on sale in the United Kingdom, London, Whitaker & Sons, 1874–1961. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  2. ^ a b Kevin A. Morrison, "Whitaker, Joseph (1820–95) English publisher", in: Michael F. Suarez, S.J. and H. R. Woudhuysen, eds., The Oxford Companion to the Book, Oxford University Press, 2010 (online edition). Retrieved 8 March 2023.
  3. ^ Jones, Philip (5 August 2021). "Former Bookseller editor David Whitaker dies". The Bookseller. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  4. ^ Carter, Valerie. (Ed.) (2000) Treasures of Enfield: Discovering the buildings of a London Borough. Enfield: Enfield Preservation Society. p. 91. ISBN 0907318169

External links[edit]