Steve Hare Penguin Collection

Steve Hare was a scholar and collector of Penguin books.

Steve Hare was a member of the Penguin Collectors Society for 35 years and was responsible for many of the Society's special publications. Steve died unexpectedly in 2015, at the time he was studying for his PhD about Penguin’s post-war typographic designer, Hans Schmoller, with the Oxford International Centre for Publishing at Oxford Brookes. He was also a longstanding Associate Lecturer. We are very grateful to Steve's widow, Alison, for the permanent loan of his amazing collection to Oxford Brookes Special Collections.

Steve's collection, amassed over 45 years, was believed to be the largest collection of Penguins in private hands. The collection is currently being catalogued and can be searched on LibrarySearch but at a rough estimate it comprise of 10,000 books. It includes the first 3,000 published Penguins. The first books were published in July 1935 and the core collection ends in 1970, the year Penguin founder Allen Lane died. However, Steve did collect some more recent titles and series.

Allen Lane discovered a need for good quality cheap fiction when travelling by train and unable to find suitable reading matter. Early Penguins cost sixpence and were not produced with longevity in mind but they were published in large numbers. They covered a range of genres and subjects and the different series were colour coded, orange for fiction, blue for biography and green for crime for example. New birds joined the flock, notably Pelicans in May 1937 and Puffins in 1941. The Collection reveals developments in production, design and branding over the years.

The Collection supports teaching and research at Oxford Brookes University.

Open Lecture series: Penguin Books: the most significant publisher of the twentieth century

As part of our Open Lecture series, author and Penguin collector for nearly fifty years, Tim Graham, explores the development of Penguin and its impact on reading habits and on British society at large. Tim also discusses the changing designs and quality of the books, illustrated by examples from the extensive Steve Hare Penguin Collection.