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Richard Charkin

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Charkin in 2016.

Richard Denis Paul Charkin OBE (born 17 June 1949) is a British publishing executive. He has held executive positions at Pergamon Press, Oxford University Press, Reed International/Reed Elsevier and Current Science Group, and is the former Chief Executive of Macmillan Publishers Limited and Executive Director of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck.[1] In 2015, he became President of the International Publishers Association.[2] He was Executive Director of Bloomsbury from 2007 to 2018 and is currently President of Bloomsbury China and of John Wisden. He is also a non-executive director of Institute of Physics Publishing, and is Chair of Common Purpose.

He serves on the International Advisory Board of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Editorial Board of Logos[3] as well as teaching on the publishing courses at University College London, City University of London, and University of the Arts London.

Charkin is currently visiting professor at the University of the Arts London.

Early life[edit]

Richard Charkin was born on 17 June 1949 in London, England. A child of two goal-oriented parents, Charkin lived in a household where academics were emphasized from a young age. He was encouraged by his family to pursue medical school at the Cambridge University Pre-clinical School in 1967. In 1972, Charkin landed his first editorial position as Assistant Editor for George G. Harrap & Co, and later went on dabble in publishing courses and book fairs, which opened his eyes to the world of publishing in genres like trade all the way to academics.


Charkin’s educational history is extensive – he acquired an MA in Natural Sciences from Trinity College at Cambridge, was a member of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, and even earned the title of Supernumerary Fellow of Green College at Oxford. Career wise, Charkin has been active in the publishing field since 1972, notable for his 11-year-long run as Bloomsbury Press’ Executive Director as well as his presidency with the IPA and UK PA respectively. Apart from this, Charkin has had a number of senior executive positions at several publishing companies such as Reed International, Macmillan Publishers, and Oxford University Press. As of late, he resides as Bloomsbury China’s President, as well as the non-executive director of Liverpool University Press and the Institute of Physics Publishing. He is also a publishing professor at multiple university locations around London, England and has founded a publishing company of his own, called Mensch Publishing.[4]

Contribution to the OED[edit]

Charkin’s time as both head of reference and managing director at Oxford University Press was incredibly influential to the evolution of the Oxford English Dictionary. Charkin cemented himself as an assertive and confident figure looking to improve both the functional and international purposes of the Press. In 1982, he pitched the idea of abandoning manual editing/publication for a more efficient, computerized editing/publishing system. By 1983, Charkin secured a deal with both IBM and ICC to get the necessary equipment and assistance for the computerization of the Dictionary. By 1984, Oxford University had approved Charkin and co.’s project, which confirmed the digitised future of the OED. Many members of the Press wondered if Charkin’s successful ruminations would lead to the end of the Print, worrying that the introduction of the “New OED” project would far exceed the popularity of the original edition. For the next five years, Charkin and co. worked tirelessly to merge the Supplements with the OED in preparation for the 1989 release of the Second Edition. Charkin and the University Press agreed that, after this Edition, they could finally begin expanding upon the long-awaited distribution of CD-ROMs containing OED text. In 1992, this was made a reality, thanks to the efforts of Charkin, alongside John Simpson, Ed Weiner, the Tim Benbow, Julia Swanell and more. The Internet was still not a public tool at this point, making CD availability a big deal for readers and editors alike. This was achieved through the project team’s painstaking effort of manually inputting the whole text of the OED, a personal choice that was made to honour the traditional print-based method. Charkin’s willingness to push the Press in a bigger and bolder direction gave the team confidence to see the digitization project through, an accomplishment that evolved the art of lexicography and paved the way for the future of online publication.


  • Charkin Blog, The Archive, Macmillan, 2008.
  • The Lowdown: top tips for wannabe CEOs (with Richard Pettinger), Creative Content Ltd, 2009
  • Publishing Perspectives articles
  • My Back Pages, Marble Hill London, 2023.


Charkin, R. (2022, January 28). Richard Charkin: A 2022 Publishing Resolution. Publishing Perspectives. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://publishingperspectives.com/2022/01/richard-charkin-a-2022-publishing-resolution-covid19/

“Charkin’s half century in publishing” (2018). Blogs: The Society of Authors. Blogs | The Society of Authors. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://www.societyofauthors.org/News/Blogs/SoA-Blog/December-2018/Charkin-s-half-century-in-publishing

Charkin, R. (2023, January 27). Richard Charkin: "Remnants of Organs" in Medicine and Publishing . Publishing Perspectives. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://publishingperspectives.com/2022/07/richard-charkin-vestigial-organs-in-medicine-and-publishing/

Charkin, R. (2023, January 22). Richard Charkin: Three Gifts for Publishing's Christmas. Publishing Perspectives. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://publishingperspectives.com/2022/12/richard-charkin-three-gifts-for-publishings-christmas/

Oxford University Press. (2023). History of the OED. Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://public.oed.com/history/

Simpson, J. (2017). The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of it All at the Oxford English Dictionary: A Memoir. Basic Books.

Skylark. (2019). Richard Charkin. Trillium Partners. Retrieved January 29, 2023, from https://www.trilliumpartners.co.uk/team-member/richard-charkin/

  1. ^ "The board - Corporate and Investor Relations - Bloomsbury.com". bloomsbury-ir.co.uk.
  2. ^ "Richard Charkin". huffingtonpost.com.
  3. ^ "Logos - about". brill.
  4. ^ "About Mensch Publishing". Mensch Publishing. Retrieved 3 April 2020.