The story of Angus & Robertson is the story of books in Australia. What began with a penniless Scotsman selling his books on the docks of colonial Melbourne became a shared passion for great stories that spread across the nation. Here we look back on the highlights in 130 years of bookselling.

  • 1852

    Scottish settler George Robertson arrives in Melbourne. With no money for a cab, he opens his case on the wharf and starts selling British books to locals who have been starved of new things to read.

  • Robertson now has a store on Collins Street, Melbourne offering about 5,000 titles, including some of the first books printed in Australia.


  • 1875

    Robertson now has stores in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. Among his employees are William Dymock and David Angus.

  • David Angus, having left George Robertson & Co., invests £50 to open a small bookstore at 110 Market Street in Sydney selling second hand books sent from Scotland.


  • 1886

    A younger Scottish expat, who is, quite coincidentally, also named George Robertson, buys a half share of Angus’s store and he and his wife, Elizabeth Bruce Robertson join David Angus and go to work at the first Angus & Robertson store.

  • Angus & Robertson begins publishing works from local poets in addition to trading in new and used books.


  • 1890

    To accommodate its booming trade, Angus & Robertson moves to a larger premises at 86 Castlereagh Street. This address becomes the epicentre of Australian literary life.

  • Angus & Robertson begins publishing works from local poets in addition to trading in new and used books.


  • At George Robertson’s insistence, Angus & Robertson begins hosting The Sydney Book Club, a lending library of its best sellers. A mostly self-educated man, Robertson considers bookshops as cultural institutions and booksellers educators to be respected and celebrated. This popular club will continue to run until 1958.


  • Henry Lawson begins publishing prose and poetry through Angus & Robertson with In the Days When the World Was Wide and Other Verses. He will continue to put out books through A&R until his death in 1922.


  • David Angus retires from the business with poor health and returns to Scotland. He dies the following year.


  • Angus & Robertson publishes Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin’s first novel My Brilliant Career under the pen name Miles Franklin. George Robertson and Henry Lawson are her earliest supporters. My Brilliant Career will become one of the most well known Australian novels of all time.


  • The business grows to become a public company, Angus & Robertson Ltd. with George Robertson as its Chairman.


  • George Robertson continues to spearhead A&R publishing determined to see Australian books respected alongside those being imported from the UK. This year he publishes C.J. Dennis’ Songs of the Sentimental Bloke, the verse novel that would immortalise the Australian larrikin.


  • Angus & Robertson sees the birth of Australian children’s favourites The Magic Pudding by Norman Lindsay and Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs


  • George Robertson dies in an accident in his flat above the Castlereagh Street store. He is celebrated as a champion of Australian literature. He is succeeded by Walter Cousins as company chair.


  • 1948

    Angus & Robertson debuts author Ruth Park with the instant classic The Harp in the South

  • Under the direction of Walter Cousins, Angus & Robertson has grown to employ 560 staff, over the next thirteen years, this number was to increase fivefold.


  • Angus & Robertson announces that it will sell franchises to the public. Eighteen franchises will open in the next year alone.


  • The Angus & Robertson bookshop chain is purchased, separating it from Angus & Robertson publishing.


  • Thomas Keneally becomes the first Australian to win the Man Booker prize with Schindler’s Ark.


  • Angus & Robertson is merged with Bookworld, a chain of stores across Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT and South Australia.


  • The Angus & Robertson Top 100 becomes a feature of the bookselling year. Customers enter a popular vote for their all-time favourite books.


  • Angus & Robertson has over 170 stores all over Australia and is a dominant force for good in the book industry.


  • Australia see a resurgence of local publishing with Australian writers topping the charts. Bryce Courtenay, Matthew Reilly, Di Morrissey, Belinda Alexandra, Markus Zusak, Tim Winton fill A&R shelves drawing in a new generation of readers.


  • Angus & Robertson supports readers through a decade of Harry Potter fever culminating in record breaking sales on the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.


  • Over 100 000 Australians vote in the Angus & Robertson Top 100. Alongside classics To Kill a Mockingbird and Pride and Prejudice readers vote for Twilight and Memoirs of a Geisha as their all-time favourite.


  • In response to a changing retail environment Angus & Robertson boosts their online presence and launches an innovative new online store But it is also the end of an era with Angus & Robertson closing its physical stores across Australia.


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    Angus & Robertson and Bookworld quickly become leaders in online bookselling continuing to innovate with cool concepts like bus stop bookcases where the public could browse and take home the latest and greatest books.


  • Honouring the heritage of Angus & Robertson, the A&R and Bookworld websites are merged. In the spirit of the original George Robertson, via the magic of the internet, A&R now gives readers in the remotest areas of Australia access to books. Not just a suitcase full, like George Robertson, but a warehouse filled with over 120,000 titles.


  • As online bookselling helps increase demand for books throughout Australia, Angus & Robertson helps Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton become the fastest selling Australian authors of all time with the release of their new book, The 78-Storey Treehouse. Angus & Robertson celebrates 130 years of continuous bookselling in Australia.