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.
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, Alexa Chung, J.M. Coetzee, Slavenka Drakulic, David Esterly, Robert Fagles, Blaine Harden, Craig Johnson, Garrison Keillor, Sheila Kohler, David Laskin, John le Carré, Janice Y.K. Lee, Krys Lee, Simon Lelic, Charlie Lovett, Diarmaid MacCulloch, Keith McCafferty, M. J. McGrath, Rebecca Makkai, John Mortimer, Robin Oliveira, Linda Olsson, Grayson Perry, Vicki Robin, Sir Ken Robinson, Richard Rodriguez, C.J. Sansom, Dava Sobel, Jim Trelease, William Trevor, Fred Vargas, Mo Yan and Tom Zoellner.
Patrick Nolan joined Penguin Books as Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief in 2012 after serving for twelve years as Trade Paperback Sales Director for Penguin Group. Now overseeing the editorial direction and shape of Penguin Books’ publishing program, his list of current and forthcoming authors includes Alex Gilvarry (Eastman was Here), Benjamin Taylor (The Hue and Cry at Our House), Anders Rydell (The Book Thieves), Matthias Hollwich (New Aging), Daniel Klein (Every Time They Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It), Chris Anderson and David Sally (The Numbers Game), Robbie Rogers (Coming Out to Play), and Kathleen Flinn (Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good). In his previous role as Sales Director he contributed to such long-running bestsellers as Eat, Pray, Love; The Omnivore’s Dilemma; The Secret Life of Bees; The Kite Runner; and The Help. He also served five years as Marketing Director of Perigee and has been Associate Publisher of Riverhead Books and Trade Paperback Marketing Director for Portfolio and Sentinel. Before coming to Penguin Group, Patrick was Sales Director for Disney/Hyperion and worked at Houghton Mifflin and Waterstones Booksellers.
Elda Rotor is Vice President and Publisher for Penguin Classics. She has created and edited several series including Penguin Civic Classics, Penguin Threads, Couture Classics, Penguin Horror, Penguin Drop Caps, and the Penguin Orange Collection. She oversees the classic publishing programs for John Steinbeck, Arthur Miller, Shirley Jackson, William Golding, and the Pelican Shakespeare series. In 2013, Ms. Rotor co-produced, edited and narrated Poems By Heart from Penguin Classics, named one of the Best Apps of the Year by Apple. For Penguin Books, she edited the New York Times-bestselling The Inaugural Address by Barack Obama, The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry edited by Rita Dove, The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution by Richard Beeman, and The Art of Language Invention by David J. Peterson. She has worked with a wide range of contributors including Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Guillermo del Toro, David Simon, Tom Perrotta, Rebecca Mead, James Earl Jones, Laura Miller, Francine Prose, Stanley McChrystal, Michael Dirda, Jeff VanderMeer, and Lois Lowry. Prior to coming to Penguin, Elda was a Senior Editor at Oxford University Press.
John Siciliano is executive editor, Penguin Books and Penguin Classics. He publishes writers from around the world—classic and contemporary, famous and forgotten and first-time—and is especially interested in literary fiction, the literary supernatural, memoir, travel, cultural history, humor, food, and wellness. His list includes the New York Times bestsellers The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker, Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, Philomena by Martin Sixsmith, and There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya; Lydia Davis’s award-winning, nationally bestselling translation of Madame Bovary; Philip Pullman’s nationally bestselling Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm; the nationally bestselling, Goncourt Prize–winning novel The Perfect Nanny by Leïla Slimani; the Man Booker International Prize finalist Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi; the World Fantasy Award–winning anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales; the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize winners The Corpse Exhibition by Hassan Blasim and Ten White Geese by Gerbrand Bakker; and the international bestsellers The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-mi Hwang, The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim, and Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles. He has commissioned introductions for Penguin Classics from Lena Dunham, James Franco, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tony Kushner, Jonathan Franzen, James Wood, Kelly Link, Ransom Riggs, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Neil Gaiman, and Rupi Kaur, and he has participated in editorial fellowships in Jerusalem, Istanbul, Sofia, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Salzburg, Oslo, Helsinki, Krakow, Sharjah, Tokyo, and Taipei. Before joining Penguin, he worked at Bantam, Overlook, and Vintage.
Meg Leder publishes a wide range of nonfiction and is looking for books that are as beautiful to read as they are to hold, as well as works from singular voices contributing to meaningful dialogue in the world today. Her list includes Keri Smith’s multimillion-copy international and New York Times bestseller Wreck This Journal; Johanna Basford’s multimillion-copy international and New York Times bestseller Lost Ocean; critically acclaimed poet and writer Yrsa Daley-Ward’s poetry collection bone and memoir The Terrible; journalist Kassia St. Clair’s The Secret Lives of Color; Wired writer Matt Simon’s Plight of the Living Dead and ALA Alex-award winning The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar; and Colombian bestseller Amalia Andrade’s You Always Change the Love of Your Life (for Another Love Or Another Life). Before joining Penguin Books, she worked as an editor for Perigee Books, McGraw-Hill Trade, and Writer’s Digest Books, as well as a bookseller for Joseph-Beth Books and a writing instructor at The Ohio State University.
Lindsey Schwoeri joined Penguin Books as Editor in 2013 and was promoted to Senior Editor in 2016. She is looking for fiction that is tense, transporting, and beautifully written; in both fiction and nonfiction, she is drawn to books with the power to both move and inform us. Her recent titles include Edgar Award finalist Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry, Giller Prize finalist 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad, Multiple Choice by Alejandro Zambra, Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson, Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag, and Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker. At Viking Penguin and in her previous position at Random House, she has worked with many bestselling and prize-winning authors including Rebecca Makkai, Krys Lee, Marisha Pessl, Gail Caldwell, Yiyun Li, Robin Black, Karen Thompson Walker, and Katherine Boo. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the Columbia Publishing Course.
Sam Raim is an associate editor for Penguin Books, where he edits original fiction and nonfiction, coordinates movie and TV tie-ins, and helps oversee the Penguin backlist. He is interested in bold, inventive new voices in literary, translated, and speculative fiction; narrative and category-driven non-fiction uncovering unseen aspects of history and the contemporary world; memoir; and illustrated gift-oriented books. He also acquires new translations, anthologies, and reissues for Penguin Classics. For Penguin and Penguin Classics, his titles include The Paris Review’s The Unprofessionals, Kate Gavino’s Last Night’s Reading, Charles Beaumont’s Perchance to Dream, and The Story of Hong Gildong (named a best book of the year by NPR and The Washington Post). Forthcoming titles include Joe Fassler’s Light the Dark, A Few Small Steps: A History of U.S. Space Exploration, and The Best of Richard Matheson.
Saturday, October 17, 2015 marks the centennial of the birth of perhaps the greatest American playwright of the 20th Century, Arthur Miller.To celebrate this occasion, Penguin Classics published The Penguin Arthur Miller: Collected Plays (Penguin Classics) on Tuesday (10/13). USA Today ran a feature on the book as well as Arthur Miller’s legacy and Symphony […]Read more >
Edgar Award-winning author Alex Marwood won a Macavity Award in the category of Best Mystery Novel for The Killer Next Door (Penguin Books, 10/28/14). Members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for the Macavity Awards, which were presented at this year’s Bouchercon on October 8. The Killer Next Door, which follows a group of neighbors from […]Read more >
The 2015 National Book Awards finalists were announced this week and two books published by the Penguin Publishing Group are in the running for prizes. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books) is on the Fiction shortlist. How to be Drawn by Terrance Hayes (Penguin Books) is a finalist in the Poetry category. He won the National Book […]Read more >