__NOTOC__ The Religious Tract Society, founded 1799, 56 Paternoster Row and 65 St. Paul's Chuchyard and 164 Piccadilly, was the original name of a major British publisher of tracts of Christian literature intended initially for evangelism, and including literature aimed at children, women, and the poor. The RTS is also notable for being the publisher of the ''Boy's Own Paper'', ''Girl's Own Paper'' and ''The Leisure Hour''.

Founding group

At the foundation of the Religious Tract Society, there was support from bishops, including Shute Barrington (Durham) and Beilby Porteus (London). The founding group included: *David Bogue, Independent; *Robert Hawker, Anglican; *Joseph Hughes, Baptist; and *Joseph Reyner as treasurer, business partner of Joseph Hardcastle, Independent. The founders were drawn from the same group of evangelicals who founded the London Missionary Society in 1795, and the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804.


The society started by publishing tracts, but rapidly expanded their work into the production of books and periodicals. Their books were mostly small but did include larger works such as the multi-volume ''Devotional Commentary'' and the massive Analytical Concordance to the Bible of Robert Young. From the 1860s, the Society began publishing novels aimed at women and children, providing a platform for a new generation of women writers, including Rosa Nouchette Carey. The society also published the notable novel, ''Pilgrim's Progress,'' by John Bunyan. They reproduced ''Pilgrim's Progress,'' in many formats including; penny parts, Sunday School prize additions, and cheap abridgments.Lyons, Martyn. Books: A Living History. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011. chapter 3 p.120

20th century changes

In 1935 the RTS merged with the Christian Literature Society for India and Africa to form the United Society for Christian Literature. In 1931, there was a change of imprint to Lutterworth Press for all RTS publications intended for the home market.


* ''Address to an emigrant'' (1839) * ''William Tyndale No. 990'' (1839) * ''Mamma and her Child'' (1843) * ''Adopted, or An Old Soldier's Embarrassments'' (circa 1891) * ''Wallaby Hill'' (1880s-1890s) * ''By-paths of Bible Knowledge'' (1884-1904) * ''The Jew'' (circa 1890) * ''The Egyptian'' (circa 1900)

Book series

* Nation Story Readers * Sandringham Series of Penny Stories

Further reading

*William Jones
''The Jubilee Memorial of the Religious Tract Society''
London, The Religious Tract Society, 1850, 706 pages. Gives a full description of the first fifty years and remains the indispensable guide to the foundation of the Society *Samuel G. Green
''The Story of the Religious Tract Society for one hundred years''
London, Religious Tract Society, 1899, 216 pages. Brings the story up to the centenary, but is much less illuminating *Gordon Hewitt, ''Let the People Read . . .''London, Lutterworth Press, 1949, 96 pages. Illustrations by Richard Kennedy *Aileen Fyfe, ''Science and Salvation: Evangelical Popular Science Writing in Victorian Britain''. Chicago, Illinois, University of Chicago Press, 2004, 432 pages. . Deals with one aspect of the Society's publishing programme *Dennis Butts and Pat Garrett (ed.), ''From the Dairyman's Daughter to Worrals of the WAAF: The Religious Tract Society, Lutterworth Press and Children's Literature''. Concentrates on the contribution to children's writing from the foundation onwards. *Joseph McAleer, ''Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain: 1914-1950'', Oxford University Press, 1992. Includes a chapter on the Society.

See also


External links

* *
Works by Religious Tract Society
at Toronto Public Library * Minutes, letter books, miscellaneous papers, reports of the Religious Tract Society and Christian Literature Society for India and Africa are held at https://www.soas.ac.uk/library/archives/collections/a-z/u/.
School of Oriental and African Studies page on RTS/USCL

Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge|Schaff-Herzog article o
''Tract Societies''
with lengthy section on RTS {{Authority control Category:1799 establishments in Great Britain Category:Publishing companies established in the 1790s Category:Publishing companies disestablished in 1935 Category:Christian missions Category:Christian publishing companies Category:Christian mass media companies Category:Book publishing companies of the United Kingdom