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Rough Guides Ltd
Type Public
Founded 1982
Founder(s) Mark Ellingham
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Area served Worldwide
Industry Publishing
Products Travel guidebooks
Owner(s) Pearson PLC

Rough Guides Ltd is a travel guidebook and reference publisher, owned by Pearson PLC. Their travel titles cover more than 200 destinations, and are distributed worldwide through the Penguin Group. The series began with the 1982 Rough Guide to Greece, a book conceived by Mark Ellingham, who was dissatisfied with the polarisation of existing guidebooks between cost-obsessed student guides and "heavyweight cultural tomes". Initially, the series was aimed at low-budget backpackers. Rough Guides have incorporated more expensive recommendations since the early 1990s and colour printing since the late 1990s and are now marketed to travellers on all budgets. Much of the travel content is also available online.

Ellingham left Rough Guides in November 2007, after the company had celebrated "25 Rough Years" with a celebratory series of books, to set up a new green and ethical imprint at Profile Books. Rough Guides is now run by co-founder Martin Dunford (travel) and Andrew Lockett (reference), under the aegis of Penguin. It is based at the Penguin offices at 80 Strand, London, with a satellite office in Delhi.

The motto of Rough Guides is "Make the Most of Your Time on Earth".



Most of the early titles were written or edited by John Fisher, Jack Holland and Martin Dunford, who along with Mark Ellingham were co-founders and owners of Rough Guides. In 1995, they negotiated the sale of the series to Penguin Books, a process completed in 2002.

In 1994 the first ever non-travel Rough Guides were published – The Rough Guide to World Music and The Rough Guide to Classical Music. The success of these titles encouraged Rough Guides’ expansion into other areas of publishing to cover a range of reference subjects, including music - covering genres such as world music, rock, hip-hop, jazz, and individual artists – and topics such as film, literature, popular science, ethical living, Shakespeare, pregnancy and birth, plus the Internet and related subjects such as e-Bay, blogging and iPods.


A typical Rough Guides music anthology CD

In association with UK-based record label World Music Network[1], Rough Guides has issued over 240[2] recorded anthologies of the music of various nations and regions.[3] In addition to their "Rough Guide" Series, the record label World Music Network, which has no Wikipedia article, has released over 70 recordings in their other "Introducing", "Riverboat", and "Think Global" Series.

Albums released in the series include The Rough Guide to... Bhangra, Tito Puente, Romanian Gypsies, Hungarian Gypsies and Ali Hassan Kuban.


In the late 1980s, the Rough Guides brand was spun-off into a series of successful travel shows on United Kingdom television channel BBC 2. Initially part of Janet Street Porter's DEF II strand, alongside Rapido and Jovanotti's Gimme 5, the show outlasted the 'yoof-tv' strand and became established in BBC 2's early 1990s evening schedule.

Later editions of the show, usually hosted by Sigue Sigue Sputnik associate Magenta Devine (with various male co-presenters through the show's run), were repeated on the Sky Travel channel until 2005.

A new Rough Guide series of fifteen thirty-minute programmes started production in November 2007 and began airing on Five (the UK's fifth terrestrial channel), on 7 January 2008. The series was made by the award-winning factual TV company, Lion Television. The Rough Guide to… series was so successful that a second series aired, starting in November 2008.

Political stances

In spring 2006, Mark Ellingham said he had grave concerns about the growth in air travel because of its growing contribution to climate change.[4] He launched a joint awareness campaign with Tony Wheeler (Lonely Planet founder), and Rough Guides began including a "health warning" in each of its travel guides, urging readers to "Fly less, stay longer" wherever possible.[5]


External links



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