The Penguin Shakespeare redesign by Jan Tschichold 1949

The Penguin Shakespeare: 1947 & 1949

27/09/10 – The Penguin Shakespeare series: Edward Young’s [?] original design (1938) and Jan Tschichold’s revision (1949).

For his redesign, Jan Tschichold did away with the horizontal banding characteristic of early Penguin designs and introduced a black frame. In the centre, he placed a portrait of Shakespeare by renowned English wood engraver Reynolds Stone which was balanced above and below by the title and editor’s name set in Bembo in red. Initially, for the covers he employed a heavy uncoated paper (see image below), but, with the move to offset-litho from letterpress, standard smooth art board eventually replaced the uncoated board.

Tschichold’s design remained in use until 1967.

The Penguin Shakespeare

The Penguin Shakespeare 1949

Sources and related information
For more on the design and history of Penguin Books, see Penguin by design: A cover story 1935-2005 and Seven hundred penguins in the bibliography.

Penguin covers on Flickr//

Previous post: Penguin’s horizontal grid designs and Tschichold’s reforms

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Oliver Tomas

  • Design historian and archivist based in Vancouver, Canada.
  • info[at]olivertomas[dot]com