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With Tagore biography, OUP marks 100 years in India

Publishing giant Oxford University Press (OUP), said to be the largest academia press in the world, will mark 100 years of its presence in India with a biography of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and republishing its very first book in the country.

books Updated: Feb 24, 2012 09:31 IST

Publishing giant Oxford University Press (OUP), said to be the largest academia press in the world, will mark 100 years of its presence in India with a biography of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore and republishing its very first book in the country.

"As a Department of the University of Oxford, OUP will celebrate by showcasing its rich history in India through reissues of classics and by launching major new centenary year publication initiatives in 2012," Manzar Khan, managing director, Oxford University Press, told IANS.

"Rabindranath Tagore: An Illustrated Life" by eminent scholar and critic Uma Das Gupta, slated for release in May, gives a glimpse of the personal life of the bard as also the larger forces that moulded his personality and thoughts.

Das Gupta, former professor of social science in the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, has published two books on Tagore related to his life, besides an edited collection of letters between the litterateur and poet-cum-Wesleyan missionary Edward Thompson.

OUP's relations with Tagore date back to 1954 when three of his plays - "Muktadhara", "Natir Puja" and "Chandalika" - were published.

In 2001, the publisher, in collaboration with Vivsa-Bharati - the university founded by Tagore - brought out a selection of his writings, including poetry, fiction and non-fiction in English titled "The Oxford Tagore Translations".

As part of the centenary celebration, the publishing house - with a presence in more than 50 countries - is launching and re-issuing various books.

A major volume to be launched is a republication of its first book in India on "Essential Psychology" by S. Radhakrishan that hit the book stands in 1912.

A special edition of the Oxford School Atlas first published in 1915 will also be relaunched as well as some unpublished works of conservationist and author Jim Corbett.

In the list of new arrivals this year is a pictorial book by noted photojournalist Steve Raymer. The book through its 200 photographs captures the rich culture of the city from the time it was the capital of British Raj.

The first of its office in India was established in 1912 in Bombay (now Mumbai) followed by Chennai and Kolkata. The Delhi centre was opened in 1972, following which the headquarters of OUP India was shifted here from Mumbai.

In 1922, the OUP published its first English translation of eminent Bengali author Saratchandra Chattopadhyay's "Srikanta".

The OUP had its origin in the modernisation of the information industry in the late 15th century that saw the transformation from movable type to printing. Its first ever volume in the United Kingdom came out in 1478, only two years after the first printing press was set up in England.

The Indian arm publishes over 400 books annually with schoolbooks occupying the largest volume of their sales.

"An Oxford book has magic, there is sense and there is direction. Being publishers we are not only limited to printing, we have our books available digitally for the knowledge hungry people of India," said Khan.

"Kolkata is absolutely special. The enthusiasm and passion of buyers is phenomenal, people here are very observant and have a keen passion to improve their knowledge," he added.