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King Penguin Books Checklist and History

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King Penguin Books Checklist and History – The King Penguin book series, a pioneering initiative by Penguin Books, was launched in 1939 with “British Birds on Lake River and Stream” by Phyllis Barclay-Smith. Drawing inspiration from the high-quality illustrated books of the past, the series became known for its distinctive blend of art, scholarship, and affordability. Over a span of two decades, it offered readers a diverse collection of 76 titles, each covering an array of subjects including natural history, art, and cultural heritage.

Collection of King Penguin books
Collection of King Penguin books. This collection sold for £50 at Duke’s Avenue Auctions, December 2023

Notable titles include “A Book of Ships” (1941) by Charles Mitchell, “Caricature” (1941) by E.H. Gombrich, and “British Butterflies” (1951) by E.B. Ford. The series also ventured into historical and artistic territories with books like “Bayeux Tapestry” (1943) by Eric MacLagen and “Portraits of Christ” (1941) by Ernst Kitzinger.

King Penguin books mostly from the 1940s including 10 volumes on Natural History
King Penguin books mostly from the 1940s including 10 volumes on Natural History. This collection sold for £50 at Barbara Kirk Auctions, September 2023.

The series was characterized by its small, pocket-sized format, high-quality illustrations, and thoughtful curation by leading authors and scholars. Editors like Noel Carrington ensured that each book was meticulously designed, often employing striking color plates. They were normally hardback but some soft cover variations were also produced. The King Penguin series played a pivotal role in democratizing access to beautifully illustrated and intellectually stimulating books, leaving a lasting legacy in the world of publishing.

King Penguin Books Checklist of Books 1 to 76

The books all included colour printing with illustrations or book plates. Illustrators have been added where known.

No. Title Author Illustrator Year
K1 British Birds on Lake River and Stream Barclay-Smith, Phyllis John Gould 1939
K2 Book of Roses Ramsbottom, John Pierre-Joseph Redouté 1939
K3 A Book of Ships Mitchell, Charles Mitchell, Charles 1941
K4 Portraits of Christ Kitzinger, Ernst & Senior, Elizabeth 1941
K5 Caricature Gombrich, E.H & Kris, E 1941
K6 British Shells Duncan, F. Martin 1943
K7 Fashions and Fashion Plates Laver, James 1943
K8 Elizabethan Miniatures Winter, Carl 1943
K9 Microcosm of London Rowlandson, T & Pugin, A C Rowlandson & Pugin 1943
K10 Bayeux Tapestry MacLagen, Eric 1943
K11 Fishes of Britain’s Rivers and Lakes Norman, J.R. 1943
K12 Poets’ Corner Beerbohm, Max 1943
K13 Edible Fungi Ramsbottom, John 1943
K14 Book of Lilies Stoker, Fred 1944
K15 Seashore Life and Pattern Stephenson, T.A. 1944
K16 Children as Artists Tomlinson, R.R. 1945
K17 Leaves of Southwell Pevsner, Nikolaus 1945
K18 Some British Moths Riley, Norman 1945
K19 Garden Birds Barclay-Smith, Phyllis 1945
K20 English Ballet Leeper, Janet 1944
K21 Popular Art in Britain Carrington, Noel 1945
K22 Heraldry in England Wagner, Anthony 1946
K23 Poisonous Fungi Ramsbottom, John 1945
K24 Birds of the Sea Lockley, R.M. 1945
K25 Ur: The First Phases Woolley, Leonard 1947
K26 Book of Toys White, Gwen 1946
K27 Flowers of Marsh and Stream Williams, Iolo 1946
K28 Book of English Clocks Symonds, R.W. 1947
K29 Flowers of the Woods Salisbury, E.J. 1947
K30 Wood Engravings Bewick, Thomas Thomas Bewick 1947
K31 English Book Illustrations 1800-1900 James, Philip 1947
K32 A Christmas Carol Dickens, Charles John Leech 1946
K33 Russian Icons Rice, David Talbot Cover design by Enid Marx 1947
K34 English Tradition in Design Gloag, John 1947
K35 Book of Spiders Bristowe, W.S. 1947
K36 Ballooning Gibbs-Smith, Charles 1948
K37 Wild Flowers of the Chalk Gilmour, John Irene Hawkins 1947
K38 Compliments of the Season Ettlinger, R.D. 1947
K39 Woodcuts of Albrecht Durer Barlow, T.D. Albrecht Durer 1948
K40 Edward Gordon Craig Leeper, Janet 1948
K41 British Butterflies Ford, E.B. 1951
K42 British Military Uniforms Laver, James 1948
K43 Prospect of Wales Rowntree, Kenneth 1948
K44 Tulipomania Blunt, Wilfred Jasper 1950
K45 Unknown Westminster Abbey Tanner, L.E. 1948
K46 Highland Dress Collie, George 1948
K47 British Reptiles and Amphibia Smith, Malcolm 1949
K48 Book of Scripts Fairbank, Alfred 1949
K49 Some British Beetles Taylor, Geoffrey 1949
K50 Popular Art in the United States Christensen, Erwin O. 1949
K51 Life in English Village Edward Bawden 1949
K52 Isle of Wight Jones, Barbara 1950
K53 Flowers of the Meadow Grigson, Geoffrey 1950
K54 Greek Terracottas Webster, T.B.L. 1951
K55 Romney Marsh Piper, John Egerston 1950
K56 Early British Railways Barman, Christian 1950
K57 Book of Mosses Richards, Paul 1950
K58 Book of Ducks Barclay-Smith, Phyllis Peter Shepheard 1951
K59 Ackermann’s Cambridge Williamson, Reginald Ross 1951
K60 Crown Jewels Chadwick, Paxton 1951
K61 Atlas of Tudor England Speed, John 1951
K62 Medieval Carvings in Exeter Cave, C.J.P. 1953
K63 Book of Greek Coins Seltman, Charles 1952
K64 Magic Books from Mexico Burland, Cottie 1953
K65 Semi-Precious Stones Wooster, Nora 1953
K66 Birds of the Plata Hudson, W.H. S. Magno 1952
K67 Mountain Birds Lodge, G.E. 1952
K68 Animals in Staffordshire Pottery Rackham, Bernard Peggy Jeremy 1953
K69 Ackermann’s Oxford Colvin, H.M. 1954
K70 Diverting History of John Gilpin Cowper, William 1953
K71 Egyptian Paintings Davies, Nina 1954
K72 Misericords Anderson, M.D. 1954
K73 Picture of Cricket Arlott, John 1955
K74 Woodland Birds Barclay Smith, Phyllis Peter Shepheard 1955
K75 Monumental Brasses Mann, James 1957
K76 Sculpture of the Parthenon Corbett, P.E. 1959

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