British publisher famous for children's books, particularly those of Beatrix Potter, and for its Observer's Books which have gained a cult following.
The company was founded in 1865 by a bookseller turned publisher, Frederick Warne, replacing an earlier association between Warne and George Routledge, who also went on to found his own publishing company.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Warne's firm built a reputation based upon its children's list, publishing illustrated books by such well-known authors and artists as Edward Lear, Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane. Toward the end of the century, Frederick Warne retired and handed the management of the business over to his three sons, Harold, Fruing, and Norman.
Warne was among the six publishers to whom Beatrix Potter submitted her first book, the story of Peter Rabbit. Like the other five, Warne initially turned the proposal down. However, after seeing the privately printed edition of the book in 1901 the company changed its mind and offered to publish the book if Potter redid the illustrations in colour. The next year, Warne published The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and by Christmas had sold 20,000 copies. Thus began a forty-year partnership that saw the publication of twenty-two additional Little Books and the development of a flourishing merchandising program, the first of its kind based on a children's book.
In 1983, Frederick Warne was acquired by Penguin Books.