Eighty years ago, three brothers – Allen, Richard and John Lane – founded Penguin Books in London, after concluding that great literature was growing too expensive for the common person. Their goal was ambitious: to publish the best of modern literature on a massive scale and at a democratically low price - to revolutionise reading.
George Orwell immediately saw the huge potential. “Penguin books are splendid value for sixpence, so splendid that if the other publishers had any sense they would combine against them and suppress them.”
Orwell would later bring out non fiction books under the Pelican imprint of Penguin. The Labour post-war government in the UK would actually put their election victory down to the affordability of these pelican books and a better read electorate.
Within four days of the launch of Penguin in 1936, 150,000 books had been sold. Within four months, sales reached one million. In 1946, the firm would sell its hundred millionth book. By 1961, 250 million books had been sold.
This Friday is Paperback Book Day, the anniversary of the publication of the first Penguin Paperback in 1935. To commemorate this event we have parcelled some of the most iconic Penguin classics and are giving you the chance to have a blind date with a Penguin Paperback for just €2.50 this week.