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.
Annual General Meeting 2013
The very first meeting which established the Society was held in a private house in Richmond, Surrey in November 1973 so to celebrate the Society’s 40th anniversary we are returning to Richmond on Saturday 7 September. The venue will be the Duke Street Baptist Church, some 200 metres from the venue for the first meeting (and a mere 100 metres from the venue for the first AGM held in December 1974).
We will be using the church’s fine new hall for book displays, and the well-appointed, adjoining café for lunch. The AGM will be held in the church, with comfortable chairs, not hard Protestant pews. We also plan an anniversary collection of speakers to give a special tone to the occasion. Full details will be announced in due course.
The Buildings of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales: A Sixtieth Anniversary Catalogue of the Pevsner Architectural Guides
This book represents the culmination of substantial detective work by James Mackay who has been comparing editions, checking stocklists, delving into the Bristol archive, and climbing the stacks of the Pearson archive at Rugby for quite a few years now, and the resultant book provides a detailed follow-up to the earlier work of Bridget Cherry in classifying the Buildings of England series. The details of every edition, placed in a chronological structure, provide an opportunity to see how Penguin’s publishing policy developed, at times planned but often in a noticeably haphazard way. The book includes all volumes published to date by both Penguin and Yale University Press, the series having been transferred to the latter in 2002.
The book also contains an extract from Susie Harries’s recent biography, Nikolaus Pevsner: The Life and a Society ‘first’ – a specially translated ‘Afterword’ to Pevsner’s earliest publication, Leipziger Barock. In this piece Ernst Ullmann, formerly Director of the Institute for Art History at the University of Leipzig, considered the place of Pevsner in the evolution of art history in Germany and summarised Pevsner’s later work. He concluded by assessing Pevsner’s contribution to the understanding and appreciation of his native city. Leipziger Barock itself has not been translated and this Afterword has been specially translated for the Society by Catherine Mackay.
The book is in the same format as the current volumes, 215 × 117 mm, and has 96 pages including numerous illustrations in colour
Penguin Papers No.1: William Shakespeare in Penguin Books
This is the first of a new series intended to provide relatively modest but still well researched material on any aspect of Penguin. Martin Yates has certainly fulfilled this brief and provided a very readable survey of works (and early computer software) written by or about Shakespeare, published by Penguin, as well as lists of the various Shakespeare series. This first Penguin Paper is in three main parts – text, tables and images:
1) A narrative description of the books, with thumbnail images of the main series. It begins with the plays series, which include the ‘non dramatic poetry’, and then describes the many ways Shakespeare’s works have been collected, selected and written about.
2) Reference lists of the series, the plays, the Shakespeare studies and the main contributors.
3) An ‘image library’ giving a representative selection of the very varied cover art.
B format, 198 × 129 mm, 56 pages with numerous illustrations in colour
Annual General Meeting 2012
The Society’s AGM was held in Chester and across the Welsh border at Hawarden, on the weekend of Saturday 20 October 2012. The programme started on Friday afternoon with a most engaging tour of Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden, the largest private library in Britain. The AGM itself was held in the hall of The Queen’s School, Chester. After the formal business, some 50 members and their partners were entertained to a fascinating talk by John Hitchin, formerly Retail and Publicity Director of Penguin, on ‘How Penguin Marketing Began’. The annual Penguin dinner was held at the Gladstone Library and the whole weekend was adjudged a great success.