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January Resolutions


One of my continuing resolutions is to visit more exhibitions and locations that have relevance to Penguin, their authors and their illustrators. The problem is always to hear about these things and I am extremely grateful for any tip offs that members can supply.

It is also good to hear about newspaper articles, radio programmes, podcasts, books and ... well, anything that you think might intrigue the membership.


I am starting off this latest news with something from the newspapers.

On New Years Day the online Times had a "lovely article marking the end, the conclusion, of the great Penguin Maigret project" (to quote Robert Bruce who alerted me). As you will know, Penguin Classics have been steadily reprinting Simenon's Maigret canon since November 2013 when they began with ‘Pietr the Latvian’ and this week they finally made it to the end with ‘Maigret and Monsieur Charles’. For more thoughts on Maigret, if you are a Spectator subscriber, you will be able to access Harold Nicolson's Marginal Comments column from the 1950s which has a nice paragraph on the Detective. Also behind a paywall but well worth chasing down, is John Banville's superb article in the FT (10 January). Of course, Julian Barnes' article for the TLS was reprinted in ‘Maigret and the Penguin Books’ published by the Society in 2015. Then for my final word on Simenon I would bring to your attention the blog by Graeme Macrae Burnet entitled ‘Notes on Simenon’.


Next, for aural delight, I thoroughly recommend the Backlisted podcast (subtitled giving new life to old books). This is presented by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller and although it is on a break at the moment there are over a hundred for you to catch up on. Each episode has a guest (usually a writer) who chooses a book that they love and general lively discussions ensue. If you need a pick-me-up I cannot think of a better one. I recently listened to Andy and John with Laura Varnum who had brought along 'The Breaking Point' by Daphne du Maurier and the conversation ranged far and wide and at one point touched on the ‘Haunting of Hill House’. This lead me nicely to another episode and a discussion of Shirley Jackson and ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ .. and so it goes. An informed, warm, witty and worthwhile listen.


Next comes my usual trawl around the exhibitions. The House of Illustration comes up trumps (as always!). From the end of this month there is an exhibition of the Illustrator George Him. Amongst a huge catalogue of work, he was responsible for several Penguin covers including a CP Snow cover [1526],a picture puffin [PX19], a couple of handbooks and, of course, that delightful classified list from 1960 that I have used as the thumbnail for this post. There are several interesting websites on George Him. a couple of delightful blogs and also a Guardian article on the upcoming exhibition.

George Him bio
Fishink blog
George Him and the kindness of strangers

Incidentally, the George Him archive is held by the V&A Archive of Art and Design


There is still time to see the current Edward Bawden exhibition entitled Home and Abroad at the Higgins in Bedford.


Looking further ahead, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester is hosting Barnett Freedman: Designs for Modern Britain. Beginning mid March and running until mid June, this exhibition is the first major reappraisal of his work since his 1958 Arts Council retrospective at the Tate Gallery.


Again looking ahead, but one you should put in your diary, is Downland Man at the Wiltshire Museum. The Museum has been fundraising for this exciting Ravilious exhibition for some time but have now said it will open in September 2020. There is still time to become an exhibition sponsor.


Finally, Book Fairs are covered well by Inprint and it only remains for me to remind you that the first Bloomsbury Book Fair of this year is on Sunday 12 January. Both Leeds and York have Fairs on Saturday 11 January for those of you in the north.


On the subject of archives, I have recently posted an article that might be helpful to Penguin researchers under our Education tab.


Posted on Thursday, 9th January 2020