By founding Penguin books and popularizing the paperback, Allen Lane not only changed publishing in Britain, he was also at the forefront of a social and cultural revolution that saw the masses given access to what had previously been the preserve of a wealthy few.
In Penguin Special Jeremy Lewis brings this extraordinary era brilliantly to life, recounting how Lane came to launch his Penguins for the price of a packet of cigarettes; how they became enormously influential in alerting the public to the threat of Nazi Germany; and how Penguin itself gradually became a national institution, like the BBC and the NHS, whilst at the same time challenging the status quo through the famous Lady Chatterley case. Above all, it is the story of how one often fallible, complex man used his vision to change the world.
'Lewis's book is a triumph ... a rich and humorous history of 20th century reading habits, Penguin Special will not be surpassed' MAIL ON SUNDAY
'A word of warning: the enjoyable swiftness of Jeremy Lewis's prose can seduce the reader into going too fast, but savour this book slowly, don't gobble it up. It is so richly stuffed with facts, people, perceptions and atmosphere that you may get indigestion if you do not allow it the time it deserves' Diana Athill, LITERARY REVIEW
Jeremy Lewis worked as a publisher for ten years, and was deputy editor of the London Magazine from 1990 to 1994. He has previously written two volumes of autobiography, Playing for Time and Kindred Spirits, and a biography of Cyril Connolly.