19 July 2011

Happy 21st

21 today! 21 today!*
We've got the key to the door.**
We've never been 21 before.***

We are pleased and proud to announce that last week marked a significant milestone for the Houses of Onion. It was our 21st anniversary of independent publishing in Australia!

Hip. Hop. Hooray for us.

Of course there was cake. Herewith the rather magnificent cocky cake the Mothership procured to celebrate the occasion.

And now let us cast our mind back to how it all began...

A long time ago (1872) in a galaxy far, far away (England), George Allen set himself up as John Ruskin's publisher and printer.

Some years after that (August 1914), Stanley Unwin, of the Unwin Printers family, bought George 's company and established George Allen and Unwin Ltd. Herewith the sign for this fine establishment.

One fine day (in 1937), Stanley Unwin offered his ten-year-old son, Rayner, a shilling to read and appraise a manuscript called THE HOBBIT. Rayner accepted the shilling and recommended publication (with maps, but with no need for illustrations).

A decade and a half later (in 1952), when Rayner was all grown up and had graduated from appraiser to publisher, he was offered the manuscript of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. He thought it ought to be published, but he suspected they might lose a thousand pounds on it...

A goodly number of moons after that (1969), our PAG joined George Allen & Unwin in their Museum Street offices in London, which were located conveniently close to this adult-beverage emporium.

(We are reliably informed that this emporium was indeed favoured by Onions of yore.)

Some London summers passed, and then our PAG set off for Sydney (in 1976) and established George Allen & Unwin Australia Pty Ltd.

Some Australian summers passed, and then our RP hoisted a sail for kids books (in 1987), establishing the children's books imprint (Little Ark).

And then, 21 years ago on 10 July 1990 the British parent company was sold, and our fearless leaders led a management buy-out to establish ALLEN & UNWIN PTY LTD as an independent Australian publishing house.****

So last week, we celebrated 21 years of independence, almost 25 years of children's books, 35 years of Australian publishing and almost 100 years of the imprint. Hooray! Hurrah! Huzzah!

And so say all of us!

* When we say 'today' here, we actually mean last Sunday, but '21 last week! 21 last week!' has no ring to it. No ring to it at all.
** Well, most times we do have the key to the door. Other times Onions who arrive at the office early without keys in hand can be found sitting on the step reading manuscripts on their handy digital device.
*** When we say 'we' here... hmmm, yes, it seems that all Onions in sight have actually been 21 before...
**** We like to imagine that this evening was almost exactly like Mad Men Season 3, Episode 13: 'Shut the door. Have a seat.'


Sadami said...

Oh, Happy birthday to Onions and all staff at Allen and Unwin!! I've often read sociology and other wonderful academic books published by A&U since uni. So, I thought A&U was a publisher for academics until I met staff displaying picture books at a book festival(really surprised me!!). Now, here, I've come to know charming ladies, Onions. Hope one day, I'll see the Onions in personʚ(ˆ◡ˆ)ɞ.
Kind regards,Sadami

Miss Cackle said...

What a wonderful achievement! Go you good things and here's to at least another 21 years of indie publishing awesomeness!

Celine said...

Happy Birthday Onions. You bloomin well rock.

A latte beckons said...

Happy birthday Onions! And thanks for everything!

thaliak said...

Yes! Happy birthday, 'Aunties Onion'.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hippo Birdie Two Ewes and such to my favourite Onions!