Penguin Collectors Society


Allen Lane The Penguin Collectors Society was founded in 1973 by a small group of enthusiasts meeting in Richmond, Surrey; today there are over 500 members worldwide.

We study twentieth-century book design, particularly Penguin Books, and help to preserve and conserve Penguin Books and material relating to Penguin, and ensure the ready availability of that material for present and future research.

Actually collecting Penguin Books is not, of course, a prerequisite for membership. Any enthusiast for the good book design, typography, illustration and writing with which Penguin Books have been associated since 1935 will find something of interest here.

Latest News

The Society’s Annual Meeting 2016

The Society’s 43rd Annual Meeting took place in Sheffield in September 2016. Nearly 50 people attended one or other part of the programme.

The AGM itself took place at Showroom Workstation, a centre for cultural activities in the centre of the city. The programme also included a pub supper on the Friday evening and an informal Penguin dinner on the Saturday, and some members took the opportunity also to visit the big York Book Fair. Throughout, the talk was of Penguin books, their qualities, their peculiarities, their designs, and their unique position in the history of British publishing. For the information of our members and other attendees, the AGM included a display of all of the Peacock Books, and books and documents owned by the late Tanya Schmoller, including Hans Schmoller’s design work on Twenty Five Years, Penguin’s 1960 anniversary volume. The AGM, after its formal business, heard updates on the activities of the Society. They included the award of postgraduate bursaries, a successful visit to the National Art Collection at the V&A, progress with designing a new website and an appearance on social media, the acquisition (jointly with the University of Bristol) of part of the Schmoller archive material, and past and future publications.

In pursuit of the Society’s goals, the Society organizes visits for those interested in the design, content and history of books and attendees of the AGM were charmed by the prospect of another visit in London currently being planned for the spring 2017

Annual General Meeting 2015

The Society’s 2015 AGM was held at Sarum College in Salisbury, on Saturday 12 September alt-hough the related activities extended for the full weekend and included an informative guided tour of Salisbury Cathedral and its Library and the traditional Penguin dinner on Saturday even-ing at The New Inn. Salisbury was selected in part as the home of the 13th-century Cathedral and its Close, described by Pevsner as being composed of ‘houses of absorbing architectural interest’, and forming an outstanding townscape. It was a timely choice as the best-preserved copy of Magna Carta was on display throughout 2015 in the Cathedral’s Chapter House. About 50 members and their partners attended the AGM and, in addition to receiving the usual update on the activities of the Society listened to a brief lecture by Tim Graham on the sometimes fractious dealings between Kurt Enoch and Allen Lane over Penguin USA based on his research into an amalgamation of unpublished works and correspondence.

In a tie with the Society’s soon to be published volume on Maigret and the Penguin Books the AGM included a display of over 100 Penguin Simenon’s featuring Inspector Maigret, with examples from the Classics, the Simenon Ten of 1951/52, Main Series, Penguin 60, TV tie-ins (from both BBC and ITV), and the collage covers of Jamie Keenan. The formalities of the Society’s annual gathering are always supplemented by informative talks and displays designed to interest both collectors and those interested in the design and history of Penguin books, and all are welcome to attend.

New Publications

Maigret and the Penguin Books

Georges Simenon was one of history’s most energetic authors. Starting as a journalist and with pulp fiction,he went on to crime – writing it, that is – romans durs (serious novels), and numerous autobiographical works. While many of his detective novels used other characters, the one for whom he is best known is Jules Maigret. Maigret appeared in 75 novels, three-quarters in atmospheric Parisian settings.
The Maigret stories have been very widely translated. Penguin has for over 60 years been Simenon’s main paperback publisher in the UK, and is currently producing a complete edition of Maigret in new translations.
This volume is introduced by an article by Julian Barnes which marked the start of that new edition. Then it relates some of the complicated publishing history of Maigret in Penguin. Centrally, it provides a detailed bibliography, summarising this complexity and illustrating all 127 of the Penguin Maigret covers issued between 1945 and 2007. Finally, it gives a brief guide to many other works on Simenon and Maigret which devotees of both will relish exploring.

A-format, 18.1 × 11.1 cms, 112 pages, 148 illustrations

Price £8.00

Buy Maigret and the Penguin Books

Penguin Scribe: a collection of articles on Penguin Books by Steve Hare

Steve Hare was a member of the Penguin Collectors Society for 35 years, having joined in early 1980 as member No.259. He was an officer and a trustee of the Society for 22 of those years, first as Editor of The Penguin Collector from 1993–2000, and later as Publisher with responsibility for the many special publications which the Society produced, until his death in March 2015.

Steve acquired an immense knowledge of Penguin Books and its history and always shared that knowledge generously. His crowning glory in print was Penguin Portrait: Allen Lane and the Penguin Editors 1935–1970, which he persuaded Penguin to commission from him in celebration of the company’s 60th anniversary in 1995. He also wrote many articles on different aspects of Penguins and Puffins, and this selection is designed as a tribute in print to his unequalled contribution to Penguin scholarship.

B-format, 19.8 × 12.9 cms, 128 pages, 75 illustrations

Price £8.00

Buy Penguin Scribe

Penguin in Africa

PCS member Alistair McCleery, Professor of Literature and Culture at Edinburgh Napier University, has written a 35-page illustrated essay which covers the conception and birth of the West African Series, then concentrates on the rationale behind the start of the Penguin African Library, its subsequent development and eventual demise associated with the educational link with Longmans.

The second part of the book contains a bibliography of each series and images of every book in the two series.

B-format, 19.8 × 12.9 cms, 56 pages, 63 illustrations

Price £8.00

Buy Penguin in Africa