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Our Legacy

Penguin Books was the brainchild of British publisher Allen Lane, back in 1935. Urban legend speaks of his fruitless quest to find a good book to read at the Exeter Railway Station, which, among other factors, led to the inspiration for Penguin Books and the production of a range of affordable and high-quality paperback books.

At the time, paperbacks weren’t the chosen format for anyone wishing to publish serious, well-written literature. But surprising initial sceptics, the books soon found a profitable market in the UK, setting the tone for intellectual reading as a layman’s game in the twentieth century—a tradition upheld by millions of bookworms today.

In 1925, Bennet Cerf, aged twenty-seven, and Donald S. Klopfer, aged twenty-three, purchased the 109-volume Modern Library, reprints of classic works from literature, and added more American writers and some older classics to it. After two years of expanding The Modern Library, these budding publishers said, ‘We just said we were going to publish a few books on the side at random’ and founded Random House—a publishing house that let them publish books that interested them, at random.

THE PENGUIN LOGO

The Penguin logo is perhaps one of the most recognizable and iconic logos in the world. And to think of it, the name and logo came from a suggestion by Lane’s secretary, Joan Coles. The initial design of the Penguin logo was created by Edward Young, a twenty-one-year-old, after a trip to the zoo. And now, the little bird can be found on the spines of so many of our most cherished books.