Rainbird Archive

Scope and Content

The collection consists of over 500 illustrated books covering many subjects including wine, cookery, art, antiques, religion (including Bibles), history, and natural history. Rainbird sold books to 280 different publishers in 29 different countries and the collection includes these, many of them foreign language editions. Some of the Rainbird titles went on to become best sellers and involved many well-known authors, designers and editors including J. B. Priestly, A. J. P. Taylor, Jane Grigson and Geoffrey Grigson.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Rainbird archive is the imprint of the company which started out in 1951 as Rainbird, McLean Ltd and became George Rainbird Ltd in 1958. George Rainbird, together initially with Ruari McLean, designed and produced accessible illustrated books for other publishers to sell. He was the first to do this and the standards set by the 'Rainbird book' were later copied by many of his clients. The companies spanned the years 1951 to 1982, when George Rainbird retired on his 77th birthday.

Conditions Governing Access

Before your first visit to the Special Collections Reading Room please complete a Reading Room registration form . The form is also available from the Headington Library Enquiry Desk. Internal staff and students will be asked to show their University ID card, and external applicants should bring proof of address

Applicants are bound by the Reading Room regulations .

The Reading Room is open between 1pm and 5pm, Monday to Friday, during the University semesters (dates available here ) and researchers can visit by prior appointment outside these times; Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm. Please email us to arrange a visit or if you have any queries: libraryenquiries@brookes.ac.uk

Other Finding Aids

The collection is uncatalogued, but a published list of items in the Archive sits alongside the collection.

Custodial History

The collection was created by George Rainbird Ltd, and passed on to the publisher Paul Hamlyn. The collection came to Oxford Brookes University in 2004 through former head of Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies, Professor Paul Richardson.

Related Material

The Archive of Ruari McLean Associates, a company set up by Rainbird's business partner, is held at Reading University Library; it contains material produced at Rainbird, McLean. McLean has also written books on the subject of typography and many of these can be found in Oxford Brookes Headington Library.