Odds and quads

April 8, 2010

It was at Exeter railway station in 1935, after paying a visit to the author Agatha Christie in Devon, that the publisher Sir Allen Lane came up with the idea for Penguin Books.

Appalled by the quality of reading matter available at the station bookstall, he realised that there was a gap in the market for cheap but sophisticated paperback fiction of a kind that he and his friends would want to read. The first 10 Penguin titles went on sale on 30 July that year.

The undertaking proved a huge success. One of the key factors was the distinctive "Penguin look" and logo developed by typographer Jan Tschichold, as illustrated in his standard cover grid (pictured).

The second image shows Sir Allen, who was knighted in 1962, attempting to approach two king penguins on one of his many business trips to Australia.

Both form part of the Penguin Archive in the special collections of the University of Bristol Library.

Send suggestions for this series on the sector's treasures, oddities and curiosities to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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