World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Pelican Books

Article Id: WHEBN0002837423
Reproduction Date:

Title: Pelican Books  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Boris Ford, Orlando Figes, Ha-Joon Chang, The Penguin Book of Canadian Verse, Jeff Mermelstein
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Pelican Books

Pelican Books
Four Pelican book covers, showing the gradual shift in the design. From left - 1937 (three bands), 1955 (grid), 1969 (illustrated), and 2007 (a "Penguin Celebrations" throwback edition)
Parent company Penguin Random House
Founded 1937
Founder Allen Lane
Country of origin United Kingdom
Headquarters location London
Publication types Books
Official website .com.pelicanbookswww

Pelican Books is a non-fiction imprint of Penguin Books.[1] Originally founded in 1937,[1] Pelican Books combined important topics with clear prose to create inexpensive paperbacks for a broad audience. Before being discontinued in 1984,[2] Pelican Books published thousands of accessible, stimulating books covering a wide range of subjects from classical music to molecular biology to architecture. The imprint was relaunched in April 2014,[3] with the first five titles appearing in May.[4]


Pelican Books was first established in 1937 as a non-fiction imprint for low-cost intellectual paperbacks.[2] Founder Allen Lane wrote, ‘We…believed in the existence in this country of a vast reading public for intelligent books at a low price, and staked everything on it.’[1] Pelican lowered the traditional barriers to knowledge by selling books at the cost of a packet of cigarettes.[5] These books became especially popular among the self-educating post-war generation, and Pelican was even called an ‘informal university for '50s Britons’ by The Guardian.[6] The Spectator reported, ‘If there is any sense in saying that the culture of the world should be accessible to all without distinctions of wealth, such publications are helping to make it true.’[7]

Pelican published many of the major intellects of the 20th century including historian JB Priestley.

The imprint published books on thousands of subjects and became a global phenomenon. The series sold over 250 million copies worldwide over its nearly 50 years.[6] Although Pelican was discontinued in 1984, the original books continue to be collected worldwide and prized for their iconic bright blue covers.[8]


Pelican Books was relaunched in May 2014,[3] again aiming to provide inexpensive, accessible non-fiction for a non-specialist readership. The initial five books consisted of introductions to topics varying from economics to revolutionary Russia, written by authorities selected by the company. These were published in May 2014,[3] with five more titles to be added each year.

The first five books were:

The User’s Guide by Ha-Joon Chang
The author was, at the time of publication, Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the University of Cambridge.
Human Evolution by Robin Dunbar
An overview of human evolution, and especially the social and cognitive changes that gave rise to modern humans, by a British anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist.
Revolutionary Russia by Orlando Figes
A short book on a period of Russian history, by a Professor of History at Birkbeck College.
The Domesticated Brain by Bruce Hood
An examination of the intersection between neuroscience and psychology, from a British experimental psychologist.
Greek and Roman Political Ideas by Melissa Lane
An introduction to political philosophy in Ancient Greece and Rome, by a professor of politics from Princeton University.

The re-launch also included a line of Pelican t-shirts. These were made in collaboration with independent London clothing brand, Super Superficial, and are sold in their store and online. [9]


  1. ^ a b c "About Penguin - Company History"
  2. ^ a b Beth Carswell. "Pelican Books, A Flock of Non-Fiction". AbeBooks. 
  3. ^ a b c "Pelican Books". 
  4. ^ "Pelican books take flight again". Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Anne Trubek. "How the Paperback Novel Changed Popular Literature". Smithsonian Magazine. 
  6. ^ a b "What Would Allen Lane Make of Amazon". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ "Books and the Public". The Spectator. 
  8. ^ "Classic Pelican Book Covers—In Pictures". The Guardian. 
  9. ^ 
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.