English Catholic Publishers: An Unexpected Contrast

This little gem from Wilfrid Sheed’s Frankie and Maisie: A Memoir with Parents (1985) is worth sharing, at least for those who might remember these publishing houses, now absorbed into the publishing giant Continuum, and essentially defunct, though not definitively dead. The author is looking back to the 1940s:

Sheed and Ward was one of merely two Catholic [publishing] houses in England, and with its American branch, it was much more dashing than its rival, the semi-official Burns & Oates, which included hair shirts and knotted ropes for self-flagellation in its catalogs (sic)—a far cry from the jokes that filled ours.

Now I am left with a strong hankering to see the catalogues of both these firms from the 1940s. An online search, admittedly a fairly cursory one, yielded nothing useful for Sheed and Ward. The house had its own journal, Sheed and Ward’s Own Trumpet, which may be what Wilfrid is referring to. The price as marked on the cover was “Priceless”. Again, I can find nothing much except library references for it online, and mention of it in a journal article.

Does anybody have anything along these lines? Do let me know if you do, please.

A few weeks ago I wrote to Continuum to ask what archival holdings they have for Sheed and Ward. No answer yet, alas.


6 thoughts on “English Catholic Publishers: An Unexpected Contrast

  1. I think continuum sold all S&W rights to S&W in the Us. Burns and Oates a sad loss, looks like we’re just left with CTS which has saved liturgical publishing from an uninformed Collins but rather limited


    1. The last I heard is that the rights to UK Sheed and Ward are held by Bloomsbury (Continuum) and the rights to the US Sheed and Ward (also a mere cipher now) by Rowman & Littlefield. Continuum also holds the rights to Burns and Oates. That is why is it not quite right to say the imprints are dead. A few years ago a reprint of The Layman’s Missal was issued under the name of Burns & Oates. I imagine a similar exercise could be done for Sheed and Ward.



  2. I’d suggest you try the Catholic Central Library (or Central Catholic Library), now based at the Centre for Catholic Studies at Durham (Ushaw).
    I may have the terminology a bit wrong, but the Library is just the place that would have kept S&W stuff.


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