Brain Pickings

Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Book Covers for Penguin Classics


Coralie Bickford-Smith is easily our favorite book cover designer. Her signature patterns for Penguin breathe new life into some of literature’s greatest classics. Somewhere between Victorian wallpaper and modernist upholstery, her intricate yet minimalist designs emanate a kind of obsessive charm that makes us love the books they grace even more.

The color choices and graphic elements offer a wink with subtle play on elements from the book’s plot or setting to those who would wink back, from the glamorous chandelier of The Great Expectations to scissors of Little Women.

The cover is there to serve the content, so the content has to be taken into consideration. How and to what extent the content is represented on the cover varies of course – sometimes it will be quite literal, other times more oblique, or even just a suggestion of mood and tone.” ~ Coralie Bickford-Smith

But perhaps most stunning of all is Bickford-Smith’s work on Penguin’s recently released F. Scott Fitzgerald series, from The Great Gatsby to Flappers and Philosophers: The Collected Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald and everything in between.

A few of our favorites:

The complete collection can conveniently be found right here.

So if you’re looking for a thoughtful and elegant gift that will mesmerize the design-loving literary fiend in your life, look no further than Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Penguin classics.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:

You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

Share on Tumblr