Reading lists

Penguin Classics at 75: five landmark books that shaped the iconic series

From its first affordable translation of Homer’s The Odyssey in 1946 to its 21st-century redesign, the Penguin Classics series has left an indelible mark on literature. Here, author and expert Henry Eliot reveals its history through five of its most significant titles.

Henry Eliot
A flatlay of five Penguin Classics covers against a red background.
The original published covers of five iconic Penguin Classics. Image: Alexandra Francis / Penguin

This year marks both the 75th anniversary of the Penguin Classics and the 60th anniversary of the Penguin Modern Classics series. Together, these remarkable lists form the largest and richest library of world literature on the planet: more than 3,000 titles have been published as either Penguin Classics or Modern Classics over the years, but here are five landmark titles, which chart the series’ extraordinary history.

The Penguin Modern Classics Book 
by Henry Eliot is out now courtesy of Particular Books.

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