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 will take place in Sheffield between Friday 16 and Sunday 18 September 2016. Members and non-members are equally welcome to attend.

The AGM itself and the display and sale of books will take place on Saturday 17 September at Showroom Workstation, a centre for cultural activities converted from a 1930s car showroom, very close to Sheffield railway station and close to the city centre. The display and sale will include some of the Penguins owned by the late Tanya Schmoller. The programme will also include a pub supper on the Friday evening and our informal Penguin dinner on the Saturday.

The Workstation is very close to Sheffield railway station, which is 160 miles and two hours by train from St Pancras, making a day trip feasible from London as well as from many other places. If you wish to stay for longer, Jurys Inn, which is close to the Workstation, is holding rooms for the Friday and Saturday nights at a special rate. There is naturally a wide choice of other places to stay in the city.

There is no need to book to attend the formal AGM, of course, nor the Friday evening supper, but it will help our planning if you say that you intend to come. Booking is essential for tables at the book display and sale, for refreshments during the Saturday, and for the dinner that evening.

The big York book fair will take place at York Racecourse on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September. It would be possible to go to York, an hour north of Sheffield, during the Friday, and be in Sheffield for the evening.

Further information about our weekend will be sent in late August to everyone who has said that they intend to be present. This will include a map giving directions to the venues and car parking, and information about other activities, bookish and not, in Sheffield and its region, that members may wish to pursue.

For further information, for details of how to book accommodation at Jurys Inn, or to book to attend any part of our programme, please contact James Mackay at:

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