J. M. Dent and Company, publishing firm founded by Joseph Malaby Dent in 1888. (It became J.M. Dent & Sons in 1909). Between 1889 and 1894 Dent published the works of Charles Lamb, Oliver Goldsmith, Jane Austen, Chaucer, Tennyson, and like authors. Printed in small runs on handmade paper, these early editions enjoyed modest commercial success. Dent established the highly successful Temple Shakespeare series in 1894.
In 1904, Dent began to plan Everyman's Library, a series of one thousand classics to be published in an attractive format and sold at one shilling. To meet demand, Dent built the Temple Press in Letchworth. The publication of the Everyman Library began in 1906 and 152 titles were issued by the end of the first year. The First World War brought inflation and shortages of supplies which slowed the production of books and the introduction of the Copyright Act 1911 which extended protection to fifty years after the author's death reduced the availability of Victorian texts. Nevertheless, the Everyman's Library was a huge success and Dent was able to build a new factory and offices in Covent Garden with the profits. Dent did not live to see the one thousand volume mark reached in 1956.
J. M. Dent, his sons Hugh and Jack, and Jack's son F. J. Martin Dent, constituted the board of directors in the 1920s. Hugh Dent joined the firm in 1909 and functioned as an editor for Everyman's Library; Jack joined the firm in 1915 and supervised the Temple Press; F. J. Martin Dent came in 1924 and directed the production department. After J. M. Dent's death, W. G. Taylor, the secretary of the firm since 1916, joined the board. Hugh R. Dent served as the chairman from 1926 to 1938, followed by Taylor from 1938 to 1963. Taylor was also managing director from 1934 to 1955. F. J. Martin Dent followed Taylor as managing director and chairman. Weidenfeld and Nicolson purchased J. M. Dent & Sons in January 1988. It now forms an imprint of the Orion Publishing Group.