Penguin UK

Penguin timeline


The first Ladybird children's books published. Their low price and distinctive design are key selling points.   
1935 Allen Lane publishes the first Penguin books, realising his vision to make quality books  available to all at low prices. The books cost sixpence (the same as a packet of cigarettes) and are colour-coded: orange for fiction, blue for biography and green for crime.
  The first batch includes books by Ernest Hemingway and Agatha Christie.
1936 By March 1936 - 10 months after the company’s launch on 30 July 1935 - 1 million Penguin books have been printed. 
1937 Allen Lane launches a non-fiction imprint after overhearing someone at a King’s Cross station bookstall mistakenly ask for “one of those Pelican books”. The first Pelican book is George Bernard Shaw’s The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism.
1940 The first four Puffin Picture Books are published with the aim of helping evacuated city children adjust to life in the country. Titles such as War on Land are such a success that they are quickly followed by fiction. One title is Worzel Gummidge, which, like many of Puffin’s books, go on to become a popular TV programme.
1942 Penguin sets up the Armed Forces Book Club, to bring entertainment and comfort to soldiers cut off from friends and family.
1946  Launch of Penguin Classics with Homer’s The Odyssey, translated by E.V. Rieu, who becomes the first editor of the Penguin Classics list. 

Penguin Books faces trial under the Obscene Publications Act for publishing D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

NB The second edition, published by Penguin in 1961, contains a publisher’s dedication to the 12 jurors (three women and nine men) who returned a ‘not guilty’ verdict against Penguin and thus made Lawrence’s last novel available to the British public for the first time.

1964 Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is published.
1967 The Puffin Book Club is started by Kaye Webb, which grows to become a childhood institution with 200,000 members. 
1969  Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar is published; a copy has been sold somewhere in the world every 30 seconds ever since. 
1970  Allen Lane dies and Penguin is acquired by S. Pearson and Son Ltd - predecessor to today’s Pearson plc.
1976 The Snowman by Raymond Briggs is published by Hamish Hamilton. 
1983 Penguin acquires Frederick Warne, best known for the Beatrix Potter books.
1984 Penguin acquires the Viking imprint.
1985 Penguin acquires Michael Joseph and Hamish Hamilton.
1985  Penguin publishes Allen Carr’s The Easy Way to Stop Smoking, which becomes number 1 in the non-fiction book charts in nine countries and remains the highest-selling book on quitting smoking worldwide. 
1995 Penguin launches its first website ( and brings out Penguin 60s to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary.
2008 Penguin publishes its first-ever ebooks. Titles include A Room of One’s Own, King Lear and Utopia.
2009  Kathryn Stockett’s The Help is published and goes on to sell over 7 million copies.
2009 Particular Books imprint launches, and is characterised by the particular, all-consuming passions of its unique authors for a whole range of subjects such as music, numbers, French cooking, survival tactics and maps of remote islands.
2010 Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals becomes the fastest selling non-fiction book ever in the UK.
2012 Penguin Ventures launches a new animated series of Peter Rabbit, which sells into 15 territories globally. 
2013  Sally Green’s debut Half Bad sells into a Guinness World Record-breaking 45 territories (and counting!).