Penguin Classics Bulgakov by Matt Dawson

Matt Dawson, a reader of this blog, has alerted me to the illustrations he’s done for the new Penguin Classics editions of the work of Mikhail Bulgakov. It all began back in 2003 when he won a contest put together by Penguin and The Guardian to come up with a new design for one of four titles by different authors to be (re)issued in Penguin Modern Classics. His entry was chosen as the cover design for a new edition of Bulgakov’s The Master and the Margarita, published by Penguin on 29 Junuary 2004 in the UK and 4 February 2004 in Canada.

Compare Matt’s illustration with Kazimir Malevich‘s An Englishman in Moscow, the illustration chosen for the American edition in Penguin Classics (it has previously appeared on the covers of the pastel green and silver Modern Classics editions), as well with as a more recent edition published in Penguin Reds. Also included for comparison (second row) are both the British and American Vintage editions from Random House, the Pan Macmillan edition, and a French edition published by Pocket.



I must confess my ignorance and admit that I haven’t read the book, but from a strictly aesthetic point of view, Matt’s design is my favourite. I’m not just saying that because he reads the blog; it truly is a clever concept. As an aside, just how many editions of the same book can Penguin publish within the space of a couple of years? Including their most recent edition of The Master and the Margarita pictured below, the answer seems to be four.

Continuing with the story, in 2006 Penguin contacted Matt once again, not only to inform him that his illustration would be used for the new black Penguin Classics edition of The Master and the Margarita, but also to commission him to design covers for the new editions of A Dog’s Heart and A Dead Man’s Memoir (to be published 6 September 2007). The three definitive (on his website you can find alternate designs) Penguin Classics Bulgakov designs, as illustrated by Matt Dawson, appear below:


As one person commented on a recent Guardian blog posting, these designs are real stunners that prove that there’s real talent out there. Indeed.


~ by Thomas on 2007-Jun-24.

2 Responses to “Penguin Classics Bulgakov by Matt Dawson”

  1. Many thanks for the comprehensive post Thomas it’s very much appreciated and I’m glad that you like the illustrations! As you suggested to me, if anyone out there has any questions or comments about the books and/or my work I’ll do my best to respond. I wish you every success with your wonderful blog and look forward to dropping by on a regular basis.

  2. Just wanted to tell you all know how much I appreciate your postings guys.
    Found you though google!

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