Hatchette UK and the Graphic History Company

A designer sitting on the floor painting names on a wall.

The Graphic History Company creates original, bold, powerful ways to help companies and organizations define themselves and forge their futures. In 2016 the British Library provided metadata for thousands of authors and publications from which The Graphic History Company researched and created an award winning artwork.


Published date:

...there was an obvious starting point - the archives of the British Library...

In 2016, Hachette UK, the UK’s second largest book publisher, brought its 9 publishing houses together under one roof in their new riverside offices on Victoria Embankment, London.

The Graphic History Company was commissioned to unlock the histories of all 9 publishing houses and weave them together into a cohesive story, while also respecting the proud independence of each publishing house in the group.

We wanted to tell as full a history as we could - going right back to the origins of the oldest division of the company, John Murray Publishing, founded in 1768. To access such historic data there was an obvious starting point - the archives of the British Library. Working with the British Library, we agreed the criteria necessary to identify every author and book title published by each of the 9 publishing houses within the Hachette Group to create a comprehensive database spanning 250 years.

 This yielded a list of over 55,000 authors, including a number of important historic authors whose connection with the company had been lost in the mists of time. From this enormous list, we created a priority list of 5,000 of the most prominent authors, including Charles Darwin, Jane Austen, Bram Stoker, Daphne du Maurier, Nelson Mandela, Goscinny & Uderzo, JK Rowling and Malala Yousafzai.

We then created a giant mural,spanning 8 floors and 450 square metres of wall space,featuring all 5,000 author names in chronological order. We designed the mural in the shape and colours of a river reflecting the twists and turns of great stories as well as the riverside location of Hachette's offices. Each name is hand drawn and colour coded to the publishing house who first published them, giving each publishing house its own identity within a cohesive whole. New authors names are added every year, making the mural a living and growing homage to Hachette and its writers.


Key points

  • The British Library had a list of every author and book published by the Hachette Group since 1768
  • The Graphic History Company received the data in a structured format and extracted the data they wanted
  • 5,000 author names were weaved into an enormous mural flowing throughout Hachette’s riverside offices in the shape and colours of a river
  • The mural got a very positive reception

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