An obsession with image and corporate logos long predates designer labels and the global marketplace. Back in the 1930s firms like Shell and Guinness were nimble practitioners of ‘branding’, as were go-ahead publishers – so much so that books and authors sometimes seemed to play second fiddle to the promotion of their publishers, with the list in general being exalted at the expense of its particular components. Victor Gollancz, the most bombastic and self-promoting publisher of his time, dressed his books in the uniform typographical jackets designed by Stanley Morison in memorable if lurid hues of magenta, black and yellow: and contributors to his hugely influential Left Book Club were expected to subsume their identities into what was, in effect, a corporate image.
Much the same applied to those authors published by Allen Lane at Penguin Books, founded in 1935. After a secretary had suggested a name for the new firm, Edward Young was sent off to the penguin house at the Zoo to draw what was to become the most famous of