Penguin Books is a British publishing house. It was founded in 1935 by Sir Allen Lane as a line of the publishers The Bodley Head, Penguins success demonstrated that large audiences existed for serious books. Penguin also had a significant impact on public debate in Britain, through its books on British culture, politics, the arts, and science. Penguin Books is now an imprint of the worldwide Penguin Random House and it is one of the largest English-language publishers, formerly known as the Big Six, now the Big Five. The first Penguin paperbacks were published in 1935, but at first only as an imprint of The Bodley Head with the books originally distributed from the crypt of Holy Trinity Church Marylebone, Penguin Books has its registered office in the City of Westminster, London, England. However the question of how publishers could reach a larger public had been the subject of a conference at Rippon Hall, inexpensive paperbacks did not initially appear viable to Bodley Head, since the deliberately low price of 6d. This helped Allen Lane purchase publication rights for some works more cheaply than he otherwise might have done since other publishers were convinced of the short term prospects of the business. By March 1936, ten months after the launch on 30 July 1935. It was Frost who in 1945 was entrusted with the reconstruction of Penguin Inc after the departure of its first managing director Ian Ballantine, from the outset, design was essential to the success of the Penguin brand. In the central panel, the author and title were printed in Gill Sans. The initial design was created by the then 21-year-old office junior Edward Young, series such as Penguin Specials and The Penguin Shakespeare had individual designs. Lane actively resisted the introduction of images for several years. Some recent publications of literature from that time have duplicated the original look, from 1937 and on, the headquarters of Penguin Books was at Harmondsworth west of London and so it remained until the 1990s when a merge with Viking involved the head office moving to London. Paper rationing was the problem of publishers during wartime, with the fall of France cutting off supply of esparto grass. This was particularly advantageous to Penguin who as a volume printer had enjoyed a successful year that year. Further in a deal with the Canadian Government, Penguin had agreed to publish editions for their armed forces for which they were paid in tons of paper. Penguin would receive 60 tons a month from Paper Supply in return for 10 titles a month in runs of 75,000 at 5d, however demand was exceeding supply on the home front leading Lane to seek a monopoly on army books made specifically for overseas distribution. This dominance over the paper supply put Penguin in a strong position after the war as rationing continued
The plaque marking the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of Penguin Books by Allen Lane at 8 Vigo Street.
Penguin Classics editions
The 80 Little Black Classics published in 2015 marking the 80th anniversary Penguin Books
Four Pelican book covers, showing the gradual shift in the design. From left - 1937 (three bands), 1955 (grid), 1969 (illustrated), and 2007 (a "Penguin Celebrations" throwback edition)