Penguin Classics Great Loves by David Pearson

On 2 August 2007 the new Penguin Classics Great Loves series will be published in the UK, featuring botany-inspired cover designs by David Pearson. These are something of a follow-up to the earlier Penguin Classics Great Ideas series one and two, which were also designed by Pearson. The Canadian release date for Great Loves is currently listed as 1 December 2007.

From Penguin UK:

For love in all its colours, you should look at our new Great Loves series. It’s not at all chocolate-boxey, it’s an absolute rollercoaster of writing. […] With Great Loves, Penguin brings you the most seductive, inspiring and surprising writing on love in all its infinite variety…

Click on a cover for the full size image.


From David Pearson (via Penguin UK):

As with the previous Great Ideas, this series makes use of a seriously-reduced palette to ensure a recognisable, coherent look across all 20 titles.

Design for books on this subject can often appear cliché-ridden and hackneyed so we decided on a more abstract, symbolic approach, using botany as the chief source of inspiration.

I wanted the images to be as evocative as possible so I considered more traditional printing methods such as screen printing or lino cutting. However, the time and budget constraints were such that this wasn’t a realistic option so I began to look for ways to create similar effects at a reduced cost.

As with any series, the main challenge was keeping the ideas looking fresh across a range of titles (and not slipping too far into chocolate-box territory). I think I have Sigmund Freud to thank for this!

On the Penguin UK website you can also find an illustrated step-by-step demonstration of how the cover design for Kierkegaard’s The Seducer’s Diary was created. Fascinating stuff…


~ by Thomas on 2007-Jul-31.

5 Responses to “Penguin Classics Great Loves by David Pearson”

  1. oh i am envious,those are some seriously gorgeous covers

  2. I picked up a couple of these today – Tolstoy’s Kreutzer Sonata and Turgenev’s First Love. I have regretted my wholesale bingeing on the entire Great Ideas 1 & 2 sets in the past – never read most of them – so I am being more particular this time. Lovely, lovely things though.

    And don’t forget the Great Journeys series, which came out in the UK earlier this year (or possibly late last year). I have all 20 of those too, and haven’t read a single one…

  3. Yes, that’s right; I completely forgot about those Great Journeys. In the coming weeks I’m planning to do a retrospective of contemporary Penguin design, featuring all those beautifully designed series that have come out in recent years before I had this blog. I’m planning to do the Essential Penguin Classics, Great Ideas, Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions, the new retro Penguin Popular Classics and the Pocket Penguin 70s.

  4. Excellent! I look forward to that. Penguin really are the bee’s knees at cover design in the UK.

    So far as I can tell, Penguin Modern Classics are being relaunched in the next couple of months. They’ve been occasionally departing from the silver-and-white-stripe formula for a few titles already (James Salter, John Updike) but there seems to be a new standard design based on a rounded typeface which takes up most of the cover. See for example the new Saul Bellows, like this:,,9780141188812,00.html

  5. david pearson is simply amazing – thank you for posting these, as well as for a super site

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