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Our Company

Winning Ideas · Successful Books

A wooden pedestal desk with a green armchair, in a study with a dark wooden able and lots of bookcases and file cabinets.

Sheldrake Press are independent non-fiction publishers. Under our founder, Simon Rigge, a partwork and series book editor by background and a bit of an idealist by inclination, we have built up a reputation for original, meticulously finished and attractively illustrated books.

A Word from the Publisher

We are a close group of editors and writers who take pride in telling a good story. We make fully illustrated books on history, architecture and design, with a few other pet subjects thrown in. An editorially led company, we think of an idea and strive to make it concrete in the best possible way.

Our specialty is photojournalism. We select pictures, group them into topics and write the accompanying text and captions. For an authoritative main narrative, we commission the best author we can find and invite them into our team. We run our text past them and they run theirs past us.

Our aim is to write well and shed new light on subjects we care about. Many of our books have a campaigning element, whether it’s the sympathetic restoration of old buildings or support for conservation of the natural world.

If someone comes to us with a project they are passionate about, and we get fired up, we’ll apply our method to their idea. Together we create the elaborate result – the illustrated, and we earnestly hope, readable book – which you get to hold in your hands.

Our Story

Sheldrake Press grew out of the publishing ferment of the ‘60s and ‘70s in which our founder Simon Rigge started his career. He worked at Purnell’s on history magazines and then, after a stint on the Observer Colour Magazine, became an editor at Time-Life Books.

He learned from the masters of photojournalism, discovered the secrets of the picture meeting and mastered the art of writing picture essays. Handed a set of layouts with dummy Latin for text, he’d go down to the London Library, pick reference books from the stacks and create original stories.

Publishing, however, can be a febrile business. Companies wax and wane. As time goes by, burgeoning bureaucracy can end up cramping creativity and penalizing progress. To escape corporate publishing, Simon set up his own company to do the job that mattered most: publishing the best books possible, without fear of the author’s prose being ruined.

Naming the company after the Rigge family crest, Simon set up Sheldrake Press with him as the publisher-editor working on each title. In this fiercely independent publishing company, the buck stops with a writer who cares about the prose.

From packaging books for other publishers to publishing under our own imprint, we grew in great leaps, making books in partnership with other publishers in the USA, Europe and beyond, collaborating with leading authors, designing with some of the world’s top art directors to create definitive works.

It was not always easy and many an all-nighter was pulled. Everyone mucks in, including our Feline Director, Mr Jenks.

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