Penguin & modern poetry

A brief introduction...

'Penguin Modern Poets 10: Mersey Sound'' cover

Penguin has had a central place in the reading of modern poetry. John Lehmann's Penguin New Writing was a key publication, which set the agenda for British poetry in the Second World War. In the years after, Penguin produced cheap editions of the most important poets of the twentieth century: from T.S. Eliot or W.H. Auden to William Carlos Williams or Robert Frost.

Penguin published two series of Penguin Modern Poets, which contained a large proportion of the most important names in British and American poetry, while individual volumes devoted to three poets each proved that poetry could reach very large audience, as was notable in the case of the huge-selling Penguin Modern Poets 10: The Mersey Sound, featuring the poets Roger McGough, Adrian Henri and Brian Patten.

The Penguin Modern European Poets series introduced many in the West to poets such as Zbigniew Herbert, Anna Akhmatova and Miroslav Holub. Furthermore, Penguin anthologies, such as Al Alvarez's The New Poetry, have helped to define the poetry of their era.

William Wootten is currently conducting postdoctoral research on this major topic, of which there is no shortage of archival material to work through. Through his research he is also adding to the collection of material held in the archive, through interviews he is conducting with important figures related to Penguin's history.