Cambridge University Press (CUP) is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world (after Oxford University Press). It also holds letters patent as the Queen's Printer.
The press's mission is "To further the University's mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence."
Cambridge University Press is a department of the University of Cambridge and is both an academic and educational publisher. With a global sales presence, publishing hubs, and offices in more than 40 countries, it publishes over 50,000 titles by authors from over 100 countries. Its publishing includes academic journals, monographs, reference works, textbooks, and English-language teaching and learning publications. Cambridge University Press is a charitable enterprise that transfers part of its annual surplus back to the university.
Cambridge University Press is both the oldest publishing house in the world and the oldest university press. It originated from letters patent granted to the University of Cambridge by Henry VIII in 1534, and has been producing books continuously since the first University Press book was printed. Cambridge is one of the two privileged presses (the other being Oxford University Press). Authors published by Cambridge have included John Milton, William Harvey, Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, and Stephen Hawking.
University printing began in Cambridge when the first practising University Printer, Thomas Thomas, set up a printing house on the site of what became the Senate House lawn – a few yards from where the press's bookshop now stands. In those days, the Stationers' Company in London jealously guarded its monopoly of printing, which partly explains the delay between the date of the university's letters patent and the printing of the first book.
In 1591, Thomas's successor, John Legate, printed the first Cambridge Bible, an octavo edition of the popular Geneva Bible. The London Stationers objected strenuously, claiming that they had the monopoly on Bible printing. The university's response was to point out the provision in its charter to print "all manner of books". Thus began the press's tradition of publishing the Bible, a tradition that has endured for over four centuries, beginning with the Geneva Bible, and continuing with the Authorized Version, the Revised Version, the New English Bible and the Revised English Bible. The restrictions and compromises forced upon Cambridge by the dispute with the London Stationers did not really come to an end until the scholar Richard Bentley was given the power to set up a 'new-style press' in 1696. In July 1697 the Duke of Somerset made a loan of £200 to the university "towards the printing house and presse" and James Halman, Registrary of the University, lent £100 for the same purpose.
It was in Bentley's time, in 1698, that a body of senior scholars ('the Curators', known from 1733 as 'the Syndics') was appointed to be responsible to the university for the press's affairs. The Press Syndicate's publishing committee still meets regularly (eighteen times a year), and its role still includes the review and approval of the press's planned output. John Baskerville became University Printer in the mid-eighteenth century. Baskerville's concern was the production of the finest possible books using his own type-design and printing techniques.