In 1936 Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin, overheard a woman at a bookstall in King’s Cross station asking for ‘one of those Pelican books’. Presumably she was looking for a Penguin, but Lane, concerned that his competitors might snatch up bird names, decided to launch a new flock of non-fiction books.

The Pelican imprint was born.


Read a chapter now

Choose from our library to read the first chapter of each new book

start reading



The Caliphate

Hugh Kennedy

Related articles

The Isokon Donkey

A true Penguin classic

explore penguin shop