Penguin Book Covers (1946 – 1949) Designer: Jan Tschichold

Design Classic – New Standards Layout and Design

Penguin Book Covers
Penguin Book Covers

Penguin Book Covers

  • Designer: Jan Tschichold
  • Manufacturer: Penguin

Jan Tschichold was born in the German city of Leipzig, but moved to Switzerland in 1933 and became a Swiss citizen in 1942. He became one of the most recognized typographers of the twentieth century. His success was to spearhead new postwar typographic advancements while keeping steadfastly devoted to conventional Modernist ideas. Tschichold was persuaded to the Modern Movement concepts after seeing an exhibition of work from the Weimar Bauhaus in 1923. Edward Young, Penguin’s Production Manager, developed the Penguin book covers, including the Penguin Logo, in the 1930s. Sir Allen Lane, chairman of Penguin Books, hired Tschichold in 1946.

Tschichold created new standards of text arrangement and style that inspired all of the British postwar graphic design, although only working for the publication for three years. Then, with the formulation of the “Penguin Composition Rules,” he was able to apply Modernist theory to the requirements of book manufacturing.

Tschichold was also an accomplished historian and author, having published over twenty volumes on Chinese calligraphy to design polemics. In addition, he worked as a freelance consultant for several Swiss and German publishers in the 1960s. Tschichold retired to Locarno in 1968 and died there six years later.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

McDermott, C. (1999). Modern design: classics of our time. Carlton Books.

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