The Religious Tract Society, founded 1799, was the original name of a major British publisher 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 Boys' Own Paper[1] and Girl's Own Paper.

The founders were of the same type of evangelicals who founded the London Missionary Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society, for example David Bogue.

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.

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

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. ISBN 978-0-226-27648-9. 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.

See also


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