The founder of Penguin Books, Sir Allen Lane, was yesterday (10th May) commemorated with an "orange plaque" at Exeter St David’s railway station - the same station where he conceived the sixpenny paperback in 1934.
The plaque was commissioned by Sir Allen's daughter Clare Morpurgo and designed by Penguin Random House, as a twist on English Heritage's blue plaques, in recognition of Sir Allen’s contribution to British publishing. His sixpenny paperback made quality books available at low prices and marked the beginning of Penguin Books.
The unveiling of the plaque was marked by a special ceremony at the station to celebrate Sir Allen’s life and his contribution to literature in the UK. In attendance were member of Sir Allen’s family including daughters Clare Morpurgo and Christine Teale, managing director of Penguin Press, Stefan McGrath, representatives from Great Western Railway, and local charities and community groups.
On the day of the unveiling, a team of Penguin Random House publishers also gave away a specially curated selection of paperback books to celebrate Sir Allen's legacy.
Morpurgo, Sir Allen's daughter, said: "It is wonderful to be able to celebrate my father’s contribution to literature in the UK. I know he would be delighted to see how many people have fallen in love with reading since Penguin Books first put quality books into the hands of readers everywhere. Given Exeter’s integral role in my father’s story, I could not think of a better place for this plaque to stand."
Tom Weldon, c.e.o. Penguin Random House UK, said: "Allen Lane was central to the success of Penguin Books and his legacy lives on today. We all still share his passion for publishing iconic books and his ambition of connecting them with readers everywhere. We’re thrilled to celebrate his life and contribution at the very place he first had his inspiration.”
Debbie Ferris, GWR Station Manager for Exeter St Davids, added: "Reading is often associated with railway stations, and relaxing journeys to the UKs most renowned destinations. For over 80 years Penguin has inspired its readers to escape, while the railway has turned that fiction into reality.
“We are delighted to be able to welcome Sir Allen’s family here today as we celebrate his life and a publishing revolution, which like the railways a hundred years before had a massive, and continuing, impact on public life in Britain.”