2. The Common Reader by Virginia Woolf (1938)
A collection of essays on literary subjects. The “common reader … differs from the critic and the scholar … He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge.” The Second Common Reader soon followed.
3. An Outline of European Architecture by Nikolaus Pevsner (1943)
Pevsner was one of Allen Lane’s best signings (the publisher gave the green light to The Buildings of England series). Pevsner was responsible for the magisterial Pelican History of Art series; An Outline sold half a million copies.
5. The Pelican Guide to English Literature, edited by Boris Ford (from 1954)
Ford was a Leavisite, but Leavis apparently wasn’t best pleased with this spreading of the word to the masses (contributors included TS Eliot, Lionel Trilling and Geoffrey Grigson). But it was a great if always controversial success. One volume, The Age of Chaucer, alone sold 560,000 copies.
6. The Uses of Literacy by Richard Hoggart (1958)
The text on the original Pelican cover reads: “A vivid and detached analysis of the assumptions, attitudes and morals of working-class people in northern England, and the way in which magazines, films and other mass media are likely to influence them.”