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Truth born
of true excellence
in scholarship

Sepia-toned photo of a large, well-lit room in which various men in waistcoats work at printing presses.
Interior of Randall Hall, the Press's first office
Color photo of a three-story red-brick building surrounded by shrubbery and trees.
Exterior of Kittredge Hall, the Press's current office

Original works of scholarship that have shaped our intellectual life for over a century. Classics that have shaped our culture for two millennia.

Our Mission

Founded in 1913, Harvard University Press is the publisher of such enduring works of scholarship as Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic, Stephen Jay Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, James Kugel’s The Bible As It Was, Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice, Helen Vendler’s The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and E. O. Wilson’s On Human Nature. We publish books for a general readership as well as scholarly audiences, written by world-renowned experts and new voices who are redefining entire fields of inquiry. Our commitment to world classics is exemplified by an unrivaled collection of translation series, anchored by the iconic Loeb Classical Library.

  • 249 Countries and territories where we sell our books
  • 12 Pulitzer prize-winning books we have published
  • 5782 Books in print
  • 23 Nobel prize-winning authors we have published

A storied legacy of publishing since 1640.

Our History

  • Title page of a seventeenth-century book with an elaborate border framing the text.

    1640

    Stephen Daye prints The Whole Book of Psalms, the first book published in British North America, using the first printing press brought to the colonies. Elizabeth Glover, owner of the printing press, marries Harvard President Henry Dunster. The printing press, plates, and paper are bequeathed to Harvard University upon her death in 1643, laying the foundation for what will become Harvard University Press.

  • Sepia-toned photo of a two-story building with high windows, fronted by two trees.

    1913

    On January 13, the Harvard Corporation officially establishes the entity known today as Harvard University Press, housed in Randall Hall on Kirkland Street, Cambridge, where William James Hall now stands.

  • Jacket of Gilbert Murray's book, "The Classical Tradition in Poetry," depicting a sketch of a woman's torso.

    1920

    Harold Murdock, a Boston banker, succeeds the first Director of the Press, C. C. Lane. Under Murdock, the Press undertakes the strategy of publishing general interest books based on lectures delivered at Harvard.

  • Loeb Classical Library logo depicting Athena, goddess of wisdom, enthroned with her shield. Nike, goddess of victory, stands in her hand, holding a wreath.

    1934

    Harvard University Press becomes the American publisher of the Loeb Classical Library, which James Loeb (Class of 1888) bequeathed to the university upon his death in 1933.

  • Jacket of Arthur O. Lovejoy's book, "The Great Chain of Being," presenting simply the title in black capitals on a white background.

    1935

    The historian Dumas Malone, Editor-in-Chief of the Dictionary of American Biography, becomes the Press’s third Director. He defines its mission as “scholarship plus,” that is, not merely highly specialized works, but works for the general intellectual reader. Malone hires the Press’s first manuscript editors and establishes the high editorial standards for which the Press is known.

  • Belknap logo depicting a crowned lion passant guardant above the words "Belknap" and "Harvard," which are divided by a horizontal line.

    1949

    Waldron Phoenix Belknap, Jr., endows the Belknap imprint with a significant gift to the Press. The imprint is to be modeled on the Clarendon Press imprint at Oxford University Press. Ten years later, Belknap’s mother, Rey Hutchings Belknap, adds her own fortune to the fund. The books published under this imprint go on to win major prizes such as the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Bancroft Prize.

  • Jacket of John Rawls's book, "A Theory of Justice," presenting simply the title in black capitals on a green background.

    1967

    Mark Carroll, who had joined the Press in 1956, becomes Director in 1967. During Carroll’s brief tenure the Press publishes such seminal works as John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice and E. O. Wilson’s The Insect Societies.

  • Jacket of Carol Gilligan's book, "In a Different Voice," presenting simply the title in white capitals on a red background.

    1972

    Arthur J. Rosenthal, founder and publisher of Basic Books, arrives as the new Director. He builds on Dumas Malone’s vision of “scholarship plus” by making Harvard’s list more appealing to a general readership beyond the academy, establishing a model other university presses would follow in years to come. Among the titles published during his tenure are Bernard Bailyn’s The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson, winner of the National Book Award; E. O. Wilson’s On Human Nature, winner of the Pulitzer Prize; Alfred Chandler’s The Visible Hand, which received both the Pulitzer and Bancroft Prizes in 1978; Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice; Thomas K. McCraw’s Pulitzer-winning Prophets of Regulation; and Jane Goodall’s The Chimpanzees of Gombe.

  • Jacket of Toni Morrison's book, "Playing in the Dark," depicting the author standing pensively while holding a hat.

    1990

    William P. Sisler, formerly of Oxford University Press, assumes the directorship. During his tenure, the Press publishes such distinguished books as Toni Morrison’s Playing in the Dark, Bruno Latour’s We Have Never Been Modern, Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project, Stephen Jay Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Mary Beard’s The Roman Triumph, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, Amartya Sen’s The Idea of Justice, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy’s Mothers and Others, Nick Sousanis’s Unflattening, and Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century; revives and completes the Image of the Black in Western Art volumes; debuts three more classics in translation series; and launches the digital Loeb Classical Library.

  • Murty Classical Library of India logo depicting a stylized elephant in profile above the series title.

    2010

    Rohan Narayana Murty establishes the Murty Classical Library with a $5.2 million gift, extending the Press’s classics in translation list beyond European traditions. Consequently, Harvard University Press begins to sell books under its own imprint in South Asia, leading the way for other American university presses to follow suit a few years later.

  • Jacket of Marie Faverau's book, "The Horde," depicting Mongolian nomads moving through a valley.

    2017

    George Andreou, veteran publishing executive from Alfred A. Knopf, is appointed Director and introduces a series of modernizations to translate “scholarship plus” into the twenty-first century. Among the authors published: Kathleen Belew, Robert Brandom, Justice Stephen Breyer, Daphne Brooks, Chen Jian, Marie Favereau, Leroy Hood, Julian Jackson, Joseph LeDoux, Richard Ovenden, Priya Satia, O. Carter Snead, and J. Craig Venter. Critical partnerships with W. W. Norton & Company and HarperCollins India, new collaborations with world-renowned graphic designers and website developers, as well as a renewed attention to training a future generation of scholarly editors begin.

  • A smartphone displays the Harvard University Press homepage.

    2023

    Emerging from the pandemic years, the Press focuses on unifying its digital footprint to engage readers, authors, journalists, and educators worldwide across a range of platforms. The present website, launched in 2023, is the first chapter of that story.

A wide range of expertise, perspectives, and experiences.

Our Values

For more than a century, Harvard University Press has been proud to publish authors from across the United States and the world, representing a wide range of expertise, perspectives, and experiences. Inspired by the university of which we are a part, we strive to create a diverse and inclusive institutional culture.

We are proud to be a part of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative to promote sustainability.

Collectively dedicated to the pursuit of excellence.

Our Board of Directors

  • George Andreou Director, Harvard University Press
  • Sara Bershtel Editor-at-Large, Penguin Press
  • Ann Blair Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor, Harvard University
  • Noah Feldman Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
  • Alan M. Garber Provost, Harvard University
  • John Makinson Chairman and Chief Executive (ret.), Penguin Group
  • Das Narayandas Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School
  • Parimal G. Patil Professor of Religion and Indian Philosophy, Harvard University
  • Michael J. Sandel Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government, Harvard University
  • Martha Whitehead Vice President for the Harvard Library and the Roy E. Larsen Librarian of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

World-renowned experts and emerging, new voices.

Our Authors

  • Chen Jian
    Chen Jian
  • Mia Bay
    Mia Bay
  • Donna Zuckerberg
    Donna Zuckerberg
  • Ulbe Bosma
    Ulbe Bosma
  • Joseph E. LeDoux
    Joseph E. LeDoux
  • Julian Jackson
    Julian Jackson

Support our mission and be a part of the legacy.

Support Us

Your contributions help sustain our mission by defraying the costs of individual publications and long-term projects.

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