Our History

The Harvard Common Press of Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the nation’s leading publishers of high-quality cookbooks and parenting books. The company has earned rave reviews from the media as well as a long list of awards and praise for its books, including two James Beard Foundation Book Awards and multiple nominations for James Beard and IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Cookbook Awards. The Harvard Common Press has also been honored by the continuing inclusion of our parenting books on Lamaze International’s “Ten Top Recommended Resources” list.

Founded in 1976 in a house on the town square of Harvard, Massachusetts, The Harvard Common Press was purchased in the early 1980s by current president and publisher Bruce Shaw. In 1984, an unsolicited manuscript arrived at the company’s new office in Boston. The manuscript—The Nursing Mother’s Companion, by Kathleen Huggins—was the first comprehensive handbook on breastfeeding issues ever to be published.  Still in print, now in its sixth edition, and with sales topping 1,000,000, The Nursing Mother’s Companion remains the standard in the category.  It has been the cornerstone of a childcare publishing program renowned for its combination of professional advice and nurturing support.

Cookbooks have likewise been a celebrated, vital publishing category for The Harvard Common Press. In the mid 1990s The Harvard Common Press was awarded its first James Beard Book Award—considered by many the most prestigious honor in the culinary world—for Smoke & Spice and The Border Cookbook, both written by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison. This began a trend of national and international industry accolades for titles such as Prairie Home Cooking, Vegetarian Planet, The Basque Table, and The Japanese Kitchen. The company has long been noted for its barbecue, vegetarian, international, and regional American cookbooks.

In 2002, The Harvard Common Press reached another turning point when it published its first four-color titles: Iced Tea, Lemonade, and Icebox Pies. The success of these books has led to a sea change in the company’s publishing program—today about half of all new titles have stylish four-color photography or illustrated interiors. This has allowed The Harvard Common Press to explore new subjects within cooking and parenting and expand our market channels.

Now in its fourth decade, The Harvard Common Press remains an independently owned trade publisher, housed in an art- and light-filled loft in the South End of Boston. In the past few years, we’ve celebrated two James Beard Award nominations, for Get Saucy, by Grace Parisi and for Perfect Party Food, by Diane Phillips. And, in 2013, The Harvard Common Press was pleased to announce that it received another James Beard Award nomination for Herbivoracious, a globally-inspired vegetarian cookbook by blogger and author Michael Natkin. Our books are distributed to the trade, gourmet, and specialty markets by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Contact Info

The Harvard Common Press
535 Albany Street
Boston, MA 02118

Tel. 617-423-5803
Fax. 617-695-9794