In the early 1930s, 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 finding only 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 titles 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, 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, including reprints from Viking and Penguin Press generating trade paperback bestsellers including Alexander Hamilton, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Little Fires Everywhere, and A Gentleman in Moscow as well as trade paperback originals such as The Perfect Nanny, The New Me, and Johanna Basford’s adult coloring books. His list of current and forthcoming authors includes Matt Haig (How to Stop Time & Reasons to Stay Alive), Benjamin Taylor (The Hue and Cry at Our House), Daniel Klein and Thomas Cathcart (I Think, Therefore I Draw), Robbie Rogers (Coming Out to Play), and Yiftach Reicher Atir (The English Teacher, soon to be a major motion picture). 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.
Kate Stark is senior vice president, associate publisher, and director of marketing for the Viking, Riverhead, Penguin Books, and Penguin Classics imprints. She joined Penguin in 2004 and has worked on numerous New York Times bestselling titles, including Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Dan H. Pink’s Drive, Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, and more recently Steven Johnson’s How We Got To Now, Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies, Jan Karon’s Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, and Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train. Stark has developed marketing campaigns for Khaled Hosseini, Junot Diaz, Jon Ronson, Emma Straub, Meg Wolitzer, and Sue Grafton.
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.
James Jayo joined Penguin Books in 2018. He began his publishing career under former Viking Press publisher and industry legend Dick Seaver at Arcade Publishing and worked there with New York Times–bestselling authors Lisa Alther (Kinfolks) and Robert Mazur (The Infiltrator). At Lyons Press, he acquired a broad range of nonfiction, including Lisa Alther again (Blood Feud) and four more New York Times–bestselling authors: J. D. Dickey (Empire of Mud), Chip Bishop (The Lion and the Journalist), Alan Kistler (Doctor Who), and Elke Gazzara (No Better Friend). Moving to Sterling Publishing, he worked with the world’s bestselling wine and cocktail authors, Kevin Zraly (Windows on the World Complete Wine Course, Red Wine) and Salvatore Calabrese (The Complete Home Bartender’s Guide). He received the Gourmand International Award for Best Drinks Publisher of the Year and continued to acquire a wide array of nonfiction, also working with Richard Sylla, chairman emeritus of the Museum of American Finance (Alexander Hamilton) and Samantha Harris, Emmy-winning anchor for Entertainment Tonight and cohost of Dancing with the Stars (Your Healthiest Healthy).
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.
Victoria Savanh joined Penguin Books in 2014. She edits original fiction and nonfiction, and is interested in voice-driven literary fiction, memoir, wellness, and cultural criticism. Authors she has worked with include Sebastian Barry, Andrea Camilleri, J. M. Coetzee, Rebecca Makkai, Keith McCafferty, Linda Olsson, and Elizabeth Wilhide, among others. Forthcoming titles include I Know You Know Who I Am by Peter Kispert and The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell. Before joining Penguin, she worked as a bookseller while completing internships at Tin House.
Matt Klise joined Penguin Books in 2015 after working as a bookseller. He is looking for narratives that engage critically with the world and that expand our understanding of our lives and one another, including works of history, science writing that distills complex research down for a general readership, and anything with a philosophical bent. Similarly, he is looking for memoir and travel writing that can introduce readers to unique lives and cultures, particularly through engagement with the arts, food, the outdoors, or sports. And he is always seeking new literary voices in fiction, including works in translation. His forthcoming titles include One-Way Ticket by Jonathan Vaughters, How To Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum, Winged Victory by Jonathan Balcombe and Retirement Reinvention by Robin Ryan. He has also worked on books including the LA Times Book Award-winning The Hue And Cry at our House by Benjamin Taylor and Matt Haig’s internationally bestselling memoir Reasons to Stay Alive.
Shannon Kelly, assistant editor, joined Penguin Books in 2015. She is interested in voice-driven upmarket and literary fiction, thrillers and crime novels, and speculative and horror fiction; strong points of view in narrative nonfiction, memoir, essays, and cultural criticism; and fun, smart illustrated books. She is drawn to projects that feature women, queer people, and people of color telling their own stories; unusual settings and subcultures; elevations of pop culture; and a sense of humor. Her upcoming titles include The Dream Peddler by Martine Fournier Watson, Awards for Good Boys by Shelby D. Lorman, and In the Dark by Cara Hunter. She has also worked on books including the New York Times bestsellers We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter, Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford, and Carry This Book by Abbi Jacobson.
Gretchen Schmid joined Penguin Books in 2016. She is interested in narrative nonfiction, especially closely reported stories that explore the effects of major political, cultural, economic, or social issues on individual people; incisive and smart memoirs and biographies, particularly those that engage with broader themes or subjects; and character-driven literary fiction, including translations, satire and black humor, and upmarket novels with a historical or international setting. She has worked with several bestselling and award-winning authors, including Leila Slimani, Bianca Bosker, Flynn Berry, Vivek Shanbhag, Kirk W. Johnson, and Mona Awad. Before coming to Penguin, she was an assistant agent at The French Publishers’ Agency.