|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Headquarters location||Glasgow (1819)|
William Collins, Sons (often referred to as Collins) was a Scottish printing and publishing company founded by a Presbyterian schoolmaster, William Collins, in Glasgow in 1819, in partnership with Charles Chalmers, the younger brother of Thomas Chalmers, minister of Tron Church, Glasgow.
The company had to overcome many early obstacles, and Charles Chalmers left the business in 1825. The company eventually found success in 1841 as a printer of Bibles, and, in 1848, Collins's son Sir William Collins developed the firm as a publishing venture, specializing in religious and educational books. The company was renamed William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd. in 1868. (The Library of Congress reports W. Collins & Co., or William Collins & Company, Collins & Co., etc., before "sometime in the 1860's", then "William Collins Sons and Co.", LCCN: nr2001-16410.)
Although the early emphasis of the company had been on religion and education, Collins also published more widely. In 1917, with Sir Godfrey Collins in charge, the firm started publishing fiction. Collins Crime Club (1930-94) published all but the first six of Agatha Christie's novels, starting in 1926, as well as the British editions of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books and many others from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Upon purchasing the rights to the works of C. S. Lewis, Fount was established as Collins's religion imprint.
Collins ultimately became a diverse and prolific company, publishing a wide range of titles, including many aimed at a juvenile audience, such as the books of Dr. Seuss (in the Commonwealth) and Racey Helps in the 1950s. By the late 1970s, Collins was also responsible for publishing the long-running American Children's Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series in the United Kingdom. These were firstly published in a series of digest size hardbacks akin to their American style. Paperbacks (of a 'normal' rather than 'digest' size) soon followed from Collins' Armada Books imprint, although the series as published in England follow a different numbering system to the accepted American one. Collins's Armada Books imprint also published similar series, such as the Three Investigators, alongside such British stalwarts as Biggles, Billy Bunter, and Paddington Bear, and such well-loved authors as Enid Blyton, Malcolm Saville and Diana Pullein-Thompson.
In 1953 Collins launched its Fontana Books series. Later Fontana Books became a Collins imprint complete with its own series, including the Fontana Monarchs, the Fontana African Fiction series and, from 1970, the Fontana Modern Masters, a series of pocket guides to influential writers, philosophers and other thinkers and theorists of the twentieth century. Another William Collins Sons imprint was Fontana Lions, which published books for children and teenagers.
News Corporation acquired a 40% stake in 1981 and became sole owner in 1989. In 1990, the company was merged with US publisher Harper & Row to form HarperCollins. Collins became an imprint of HarperCollins.
On 8 February 2013 it was announced that some parts of the Collins non-fiction imprint would be merged with the HarperPress imprint to form a new William Collins imprint.