Boydell & Brewer Ltd was formed in 1978. It merged two companies, Boydell Press and D.S. Brewer, whose founders, Richard Barber and Derek Brewer, were themselves scholars - Brewer a Chaucer specialist and subsequently Professor of English and Master of Emmanuel College, Barber a medieval historian and Arthurian.
In 1996 the company bought John Varey's Tamesis list and became the leading academic imprint outside Spain. Tamesis specialises in the publication of archive studies of Spanish theatrical history and scholarly editions and monographs relating to the literature, history, art and philology of the Spanish-speaking world. Recent titles include Companions to the twentieth century Spanish novel, Spanish cinema, Portuguese literature and Lope de Vega. In 2006 a new venture, Gallica, specializing in medieval French, was launched.
The Boydell Press has also become one of the leading publishers of books on classical music, with particular emphasis on British music and music of the twentieth century. Recent successes include Winton Dean's Handel's Operas 1726-1741 and a reissue of the first volume covering the composer’s operatic output from 1704, long out of print; the fourth volume of Letters from a Life, the selected correspondence of Benjamin Britten; and Thomas Beecham: An Obsession with Music by John Lucas. Boydell also distributes a number of music book publishers, including Plumbago Books, Toccata Press, and the English-language publications of the Paul Sacher Foundation.
Seeking to establish a presence in the US market, Boydell & Brewer entered into a partnership agreement with the University of Rochester to found the University of Rochester Press in June 1989, which now publishes between 20 and 30 books each year. Alongside publications in the fields of African studies, philosophy, and social and medical history, URP is also home to the prestigious Eastman Studies in Music series. In 1998 the US programme was extended further with Boydell & Brewer's acquisition of Camden House, a scholarly publisher of books on German and American literature and culture.
In 2008, the renowned publisher of books on African Studies, James Currey Ltd joined the Boydell and Brewer group of imprints. Founded in 1984, when James Currey left Heinemann Educational Books, this independent imprint continued his personal engagement in African publishing, which began with his first job at Oxford University Press, Cape Town, and continued through his role as publisher of the Heinemann African Writers series.
Camden House was founded in 1979, and since 1998 an imprint of Boydell & Brewer, Camden House continues its primary stress on scholarly books dealing with German-language literature and culture. In recent years it has begun also to concentrate on German film studies, American literature studies, and cultural history.
James Currey, an imprint of Boydell & Brewer since 2008, has long been recognized as the leading imprint of academic books on Africa.
Founded in 1984, when James Currey left Heinemann Educational Books, this independent imprint continued his personal engagement in African publishing, which began with his first job at Oxford University Press, Cape Town, and continued through his role as publisher of the Heinemann African Writers series (an account of those exciting years can be found in his book, Africa Writes Back, available in the UK from Boydell & Brewer).
Meliora Press was established in 2002 as an imprint of the University of Rochester Press. Taking its name from the University of Rochester's motto (carrying the connotation of "always better"), the imprint focuses on books about the institution's departments, faculty, and programs as well as topics reflected by the holdings of the University's libraries. These are works that are expected to be of particular interest to the University and Rochester-area communities. All proposals require approval by the University of Rochester Press Editorial Board.
Tamesis Books is a leading academic imprint specialising in studies of the literature and culture of the Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan speaking worlds.
Now fully absorbed into Boydell & Brewer, Tamesis Books was founded in 1963 by J. E. Varey, Emeritus Professor of Spanish at Queen Mary and Westfield College, London, a leading authority on Spanish Golden Age drama. Professor Stephen Hart (now at University College London, previously at the University of Kentucky) is currently General Editor with overall responsibility for the imprint while Professor Alan Deyermond advises on medieval and Renaissance themes. Professor Varey’s collaborator, Dr Charles Davis, remains in charge of the ground-breaking series on Spanish theatre, known as Fuentes para la Historia del Teatro en España.