William Collins, Sons (often referred to as Collins) was a Scottish printing 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. Charles Chalmers left the business in 1825. The company 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.
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.
By the late 1970s, Wm Collins & Sons was also responsible for publishing the long-running American Children's Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series in the United Kingdom. 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 authors such as Enid Blyton, Malcolm Saville and Diana Pullein-Thompson.
Collins founded its New Naturalist series of nature books relevant to the British Isles in 1945, with Butterflies by E. B. Ford.
In 1990, the company was merged with US publisher Harper and Row and renamed HarperCollins. Collins became an imprint of HarperCollins.