In March 2020, as the world watched the news with mounting horror and supermarket shelves temporarily emptied, as key workers braved the front line and everyone in the country contemplated being kept apart from their loved ones for an undetermined length of time, we asked our authors to help us try and capture what it meant to be living through an extraordinary moment in human history.
Specifically, we asked them: what is the Covid-19 crisis revealing about us? And what do we hope it changes about the way we live?
The resulting essay series, Penguin Perspectives, ran over four weeks on penguin.co.uk. Ranging from the personal to the political, it included a tribute to frontline workers from Malorie Blackman, a challenge to the future of our democracy by Philip Pullman, and a call to protect the BBC from Nick Hornby.
It saw Lee Child explore time and space, Jung Chang capture the heartbreak of family seperation and A. C. Grayling find hope for us in the ancient lessons of the Stoics.
For Jojo Moyes it was a moment to reflect on friendship; for Julie Samuel a time to think about grief. Edith Eger, who survived the holocaust, saw the moment as "an invitation to choose the life we want".
Together, the 20 pieces captured some of the hopes and fears, the optimism and the anger of the early days of lockdown.
Now the collection is being released for free as an ebook here and an episode of the Penguin Podcast, in which you can hear the authors themselves reading their work. The podcast includes an introduction by Penguin Random House UK CEO Tom Weldon, and is presented by regular host, the award-winning TV and radio presenter Nihal Arthanayake.
As part of the Penguin Perspectives project, £10,000 was donated to booksellers affected by Covid-19.