The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells
The Island of Dr. Moreau
H.G. Wells

Penguin Books was founded in 1935 by Allen Lane with the purpose of inexpensively producing high quality, but affordable, paperbacks.  One of Penguin's strategies was  to implement standardised designs for book covers. 

Penguin used a simple colour scheme, two solid bands of colour sandwiching a band of white, as very general way of identifying the genre of the book.  Green covers were generally for crime novels, cerise (or pink to some) was travel and adventure, dark blue were biographies, red for drama, purple for essays, and yellow was for miscellaneous titles that did not fit into any of the above categories.  The most common and most famous colour scheme was orange for Penguin's fiction. Those iconic and instantly recognisable novels were found on every reader's bookshelf from World War II to the Swinging Sixties.

These colour-coded books were not only inexpensive to manufacture but they were a marketing masterstroke. Everyone could spot a Penguin book from 20 yards away. Even today, decades after Penguin stopped issuing those designs, the orange paperbacks stand out from the crowd in every used bookshop.

These original designs are still popular today and generate a deep feeling of nostalgia among older readers.  Pick up a Penguin from the colours of the rainbow.

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Multicoloured Penguins

Plays Pleasant by Bernard Shaw
Plays Pleasant
Bernard Shaw
Passages from Arabia Deserta by Charles M. Doughty
Passages from Arabia Deserta
Charles M. Doughty
Three Plays by Anton Tchehov
Three Plays
Anton Tchehov
As You Like It by William Shakespeare
As You Like It
William Shakespeare
The Microbe Man by Eleanor Doorly
The Microbe Man
Eleanor Doorly
My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
My Man Jeeves
P.G. Wodehouse
Flowers of the Grass by Monica Dickens
Flowers of the Grass
Monica Dickens
The Death of Grass by John Christopher
The Death of Grass
John Christopher
The Habit of Loving by Doris Lessing
The Habit of Loving
Doris Lessing
Penguin Island by Anatole France
Penguin Island
Anatole France
Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
Sons and Lovers
D.H. Lawrence
Planning the War by Clive Garsia
Planning the War
Clive Garsia
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Catcher in the Rye
J.D. Salinger
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
The Hound of the Baskervilles
Arthur Conan Doyle
The Longer Bodies by Gladys Mitchell
The Longer Bodies
Gladys Mitchell
Music Ho! By Constant Lambert
Music Ho!
Constant Lambert
Stealthy Terror by John Ferguson
Stealthy Terror
John Ferguson
Ariel by Andre Maurois
Ariel
Andre Maurois
Selected Prose by T.S. Eliot
Selected Prose
T.S. Eliot
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
A Room of One's Own
Virginia Woolf
Selected Letters by D.H. Lawrence
Selected Letters
D.H. Lawrence
Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller
Colossus of Maroussi
Henry Miller
Across Lapland by Olive Murray Chapman
Across Lapland
Olive Murray Chapman
Pearls & Men by Louis Kornitzer
Pearls & Men
Louis Kornitzer

The Colours of Penguin



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