From the iconic orange and white covers to the amazing modern art and superb children’s illustrators, Penguin Books has always been the leader in cover art. There is even a Penguin Collector’s Society, their aim to conserve and preserve vintage Penguin books.
The first Penguin paperbacks appeared in the summer of 1935 and included works by Ernest Hemingway, André Maurois and Agatha Christie. They were colour coded (orange for fiction, blue for biography, green for crime) and cost just sixpence, the same price as a packet of cigarettes. The way the public thought about books changed forever – the paperback revolution had begun.
So who is Uncle? Uncle is an elephant. He is immensely rich, and he’s a B.A. He dresses well, generally in a purple dressing gown, and often rides about on a traction engine, which he prefers to a car. read more
We found these little treasures on a book hunting trip today. Actually, Craig found them, the scoundrel. I was clutching a rather large haul of children’s books and feeling pleased with myself when Craig appeared with these two tiny books.
They were well hidden. These books measure a pocket-sized 10×16 cm, and have beautiful gilt-embossed covers, decorated by one of my favourite illustrators Edward Ardizzone. I have never seen the original format before, only later paperbacks and re-issues so I was very excited to have finally found one (or two)
I had no particular plans for my book collection this year other than attempting to finish my American collection of Brian Jacques first editions and a reading set of the History of Middle Earth. But lately it seems a few Hobbits have been making their way to my bookcase. I recently read a wonderful article by Neil Gaiman where he discussed C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien and his much-loved and battered copies of books he’d had since childhood. I have no such creased and read-to-death copy of the Hobbit from my childhood. I actually can’t remember the first copy I read. But on exploring the contents of my bookcase and ever-growing collection of Tolkien I could easily remember where I bought or was given each copy. So this is my collection of Hobbits in the order I acquired them.
This one is not technically from my bookshelf, although it has a lot of sentimental value to me. This one if from Craig’s shelf, considerably smaller than mine as he generally only keeps books that I buy him. One book he had purchased and kept, however, was this Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe illustrated by Harry Clarke, from the early 1930’s.
When we opened the book shop in Parkdale, we put some glass cabinets at the front to serve as a counter and house some of our rare books. Craig added his copy of Tales of Mystery and Imagination to the collection, and then printed cards for each book in the cabinet.
James and the Giant Peach was always my favourite Roald Dahl book when I was a kid. Yes, I liked it more than Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the Twits, and even a little more than Fantastic Mr. Fox. I must have read it at least 25 years ago for the first time. I read it over and over, a battered old Puffin copy that has long since disappeared, and been replaced, and read over and over again. And why James? It was the Peach. And Quentin Blake’s wonderful illustrations.
This week’s best book I am going to have to hand to Craig. Every bookseller loves to find an Ion Idriess, as much as the collectors. Fittingly discovered on a hellishly long exploration of the countryside, (thankfully in a car and not on camels) Craig was trying to show me this while I was absorbed in a pile of dusty old kid’s books and kept impatiently waving him away.