In the early 1930′s, most publishers thought the market for quality books was limited to a handful of elite readers. Allen Lane, then managing director of the Bodley Head, a British publishing company, had other ideas. While searching for something to read on his trip back to London after visiting Agatha Christie—and only finding popular magazines and reprints of Victorian novels in the railway station kiosk—he was convinced that there was a need for moderately priced editions of good-quality contemporary writing.
Setting up his business in the crypt of London’s Trinity Church, he began to reprint quality fiction and nonfiction in low-cost paperback editions. In July 1935, he revolutionized publishing with the introduction of the first ten Penguin paperbacks. Within a year, more than one hundred titles were in print and one million Penguin books had been sold. In 1946, Allen Lane published classical scholar E.V. Rieu‘s translation of The Odyssey which went on to sell three million copies worldwide. That was the beginning of the Penguin Classics. Lane then asked Rieu to commission translations of other works for the new series. Little did Lane realize the impact his “paperback revolution” had on reading—today, almost 80 years later, more than 600 million paperbacks are sold annually worldwide. Now Penguin and Penguin Classics trade paperbacks and eBooks carry the most recognized logo of any book publisher in the world, with a list as stimulating and diverse as readers themselves.
Covering such subjects as literature, biography, memoir, history, science, business, psychology, popular reference, poetry and self-help, the Penguin list now has more than 3,000 books in print in the United States.
Penguin has long been committed to publishing great fiction and poetry, including the work of Nobel laureates, National Book Award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, Man Booker winners, and bestselling authors. Chris Abani, Sebastian Barry, T. C. Boyle, Geraldine Brooks, J. M. Coetzee, Carl Dennis, Joel Dicker, Rita Dove, Kim Edwards, Jasper Fforde, Magnus Flyte, Tana French, Nadine Gordimer, Sophie Hannah, A.S.A Harrison, Deborah Harkness, Terrence Hayes, Sun-Mi Hwang, Jan Karon, Garrison Keillor, William Kennedy, Jack Kerouac, Philip Kerr, Ken Kesey, Sue Monk Kidd, John le Carré, Janice Y. K. Lee, Drew Magary, Adrian Matejka, Arthur Miller, Jojo Moyes, Robin Oliveira, Stewart O’Nan, Ruth Ozeki, Katherine Pancol, Thomas Pynchon, Ann Ross, Zadie Smith, Wallace Stegner, John Steinbeck, Amy Tan, Amor Towles, William Trevor, William Vollmann, David Foster Wallace, and Carlos Ruiz Zafón are only a few of the writers whose work is published by Penguin.
On the nonfiction side, Penguin publishes many such knowledgeable and wonderful writers as Liaquat Ahamed, David Allen, John M. Barry, Antony Beevor, John Berendt, Alan Blinder, Daniel James Brown, David Byrne, Novella Carpenter, Rosanne Cash, Ron Chernow, Amy Chua, Alexa Chung, Steve Coll, Matthew Crawford, Jared Diamond, Norman Doidge, Niall Ferguson, Zlata Filipovic, Roger Fisher, Joshua Foer, Paul French, Elizabeth Gilbert, Adam Grant, Paul Greenberg, Robert Greene, Alan Greenspan, Linda Greenlaw, Phil Jackson, Paul Johnson, Tony Judt, Mary Karr, John Keegan, Maria Konnikova, Mark Kurlansky, Ray Kurzweil, Aung San Suu Kyi , David Laskin, Charlie LeDuff, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Robert MacFarlane, Manning Marable, Dan Morrison, David Nasaw, Nathaniel Philbrick, Steven Pinker, Michael Pollan, Vicki Robin, Sir Ken Robinson, Nouriel Roubini, Arundhati Roy, Eric Schlosser, Leslie Marmon Silko, Martin Sixsmith, Rebecca Solnit, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Jonathan Spence, Amy Tan, Lewis Thomas, Krista Tippett, Jim Trelease, Scott Turow, Sudhir Venkatesh, Garry Wills, Daniel Yergin and many other great writers.
Penguin Mysteries are a select and diverse group of titles that round out the Penguin list with stellar domestic and international bestsellers including works by Nancy Atherton, Andrea Camilleri, Craig Johnson, Donna Leon, M.L. Longworth, C.J. Sansom, Georges Simenon and Fred Vargas.
President and Publisher
Kathryn Court joined Penguin Books in 1977 and became Editorial Director two years later. In 1984 she was named Editor in Chief of Viking Penguin and in 1992 Senior Vice-President, Publisher, and Editor in Chief of Penguin Books. She was named President of Penguin Books in August 2000. Among the authors she has worked with are Chris Abani, Rennie Airth, Reinaldo Arenas, Sebastian Barry, Antony Beevor, Andrea Camilleri, J.M. Coetzee, Slavenka Drakulic, David Esterly, Robert Fagles, Craig Johnson, Garrison Keillor, Sheila Kohler, David Laskin, John le Carré, Janice Y.K. Lee, Krys Lee, Simon Lelic, Donna Leon, Charlie Lovett, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Keith McCafferty, M. J. McGrath, Rebecca Makkai, Mary McGarry Morris, John Mortimer, Robin Oliveira, Linda Olsson, Vicki Robin, Sir Ken Robinson, Richard Rodriguez, C.J. Sansom, Dava Sobel, Jim Trelease, William Trevor, Scott Turow, Fred Vargas, Mo Yan and Tom Zoellner.
Vice President, Editor in Chief & Associate Publisher
Patrick Nolan joined Penguin Books as Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief in 2012 after serving twelve years as Trade Paperback Sales Director for Penguin Group. Now in charge of overseeing the editorial direction and shape of Penguin Books’ publishing program, his list of current and forthcoming authors include Chris Anderson and David Sally (The Numbers Game), Kathleen Flinn (Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good), Jowita Bydlowska (Drunk Mom), Mario Giordano (1000 Feelings for Which There are No Names), Jerry Pinto (Em and the Big Hoom), Robbie Rogers (Coming Out to Play), Dirk Wittenborn & Jazz Johnson (The Social Climbers Bible), Daniel Klein (Travels with Epicurus), Adam Rackley (Salt, Sweat, Tears), Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall (Hungover) and Ferdinand von Shirach (The Collini Case).
In his previous role as Sales Director he contributed to such major long-running bestsellers as Eat, Pray, Love; The Memory Keeper’s Daughter; The Omnivore’s Dilemma; The Secret Life of Bees; The Kite Runner; and The Help. The long list of bestsellers he’s worked on also includes #1 bestselling hardcovers from Charlaine Harris, Laurell K. Hamilton and J. R. Ward. As Sales Director, he also served five years as Marketing Director of Perigee (during which time Perigee achieved its first # 1 bestselling series, Useless Information, and created the blockbuster Keri Smith franchise) and has been Associate Publisher of Riverhead Books and Trade Paperback Marketing Director for Portfolio and Sentinel. Prior to coming to Penguin Group, Patrick was Sales Director for Disney/Hyperion and worked at Houghton Mifflin and Waterstones Booksellers.
British historian and author Antony Beevor is the winner of the 2014 Pritzker Military Museum & Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. Beevor will receive the coveted $100,000 literature award at the Museum & Library’s annual gala in Chicago on November 8. The Pritzker Literature Award, which includes a medallion, citation, and […]Read more >
New York Times-bestselling debut author Joël Dicker kicked off his 8-city tour for his #1 international bestseller,The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, during BEA week with a great launch event at NYC’s Barnes & Noble Upper West Side. Dicker visited City Lit Books in Chicago and Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee last week, effortlessly […]Read more >
Daniel James Brown has delighted standing-room-only audiences across the country with his tour for the paperback edition of The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics (Penguin), #2 on The New York Times paperback nonfiction bestseller list for 2 weeks running. In California, he posed with four women from the San […]Read more >