The Penguin English Library is an imprint of Penguin Books. The series was first created in 1963[1] as a 'sister series'[2] to the Penguin Classics series, providing critical editions of English classics; at that point in time, the Classics label was reserved for works translated into English (for example, Juvenal's Sixteen Satires). The English Library was merged into the Classics stable in the mid 1980s,[1] and all titles hitherto published in the Library were reissued as Classics.

The imprint was resurrected in 2012 for a new series of titles.[2][3] The present English Library no longer seeks to provide critical editions; the focus is now 'on the beauty and elegance of the book'.[3]


1963 to 1986

The Penguin English Library aimed to publish 'a comprehensive range of the literary masterpieces which have appeared in the English language since the 15th century'.[1] All texts in the Library were published with an introduction and explanatory notes written and compiled by an editor; some with a bibliography as well.[2] Editors were also required to provide 'authoritative texts', using their own judgement in printing one, or in some cases creating their own.[2] The series was recognisable chiefly by its distinctive orange spine.[1][3]

Most, if not all, titles were reprinted as Penguin Classics following the merger of the two imprints in the mid 1980s. Some of these editions were superseded in the 1990s or later,[4] while some continue to be reprinted today as Classics. Additionally, the introductions to some titles survive in present-day Penguin Classics as appendices – for example, Tony Tanner's introduction to Mansfield Park.

2012 to present

The imprint was resurrected in name, though not so much in spirit, in 2012. Texts published in the series no longer include critical apparatus; they instead feature an essay by a notable literary figure, usually excerpted from prior work - for example, the essays of Harold Bloom, V. S. Pritchett and John Sutherland have been featured.[3] A portrait or photograph of the author remains printed on the inside of the front cover.[3] The focus is now on cover art, with each title designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith.[3]

List of English Library titles

This is an incomplete list of the titles in the Penguin English Library:[citation needed]

1963 to 1986

All titles listed below are assumed to have lists of further reading appended and/or are no longer in print having been superseded by new editions, unless stated.

Author Editor Title Series no. Notes
Matthew Arnold P. J. Keating Selected Prose 58 Still in print as a Penguin Classic titled Culture and Anarchy and Other Selected Prose (2015).[5][6]
John Aubrey Oliver Lawson Dick Aubrey's Brief Lives 79
Jane Austen Ronald Blythe Emma 10
Jane Austen Margaret Drabble Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon 102
Jane Austen Tony Tanner Mansfield Park 16 Tanner's introduction to the novel is reprinted as an appendix in the 2003 Penguin Classics edition.[7]
Jane Austen Anne Henry Ehrenpreis Northanger Abbey 74 Does not include a bibliography.
Jane Austen D. W. Harding Persuasion 5
Jane Austen Tony Tanner Pride and Prejudice 72
Jane Austen Tony Tanner Sense and Sensibility 47
James Boswell Christopher Hibbert The Life of Samuel Johnson 116
Charlotte Brontë Q. D. Leavis Jane Eyre 11
Charlotte Brontë Andrew and Judith Hook Shirley 95
Charlotte Brontë Tony Tanner (introduction)
Mark Lilly
Villette 118
Emily Brontë David Daiches Wuthering Heights 1
Thomas Browne C. A. Patrides The Major Works 109
Edmund Burke Conor Cruise O'Brien Reflections on the Revolution in France Unknown Still in print as a Penguin Classic.
John Bunyan Roger Sharrock The Pilgrim's Progress 4 Reprinted with revisions as a Penguin Classic in 1987.
Samuel Butler Peter Mudford Erewhon 57
Samuel Butler Richard Hoggart (introduction)
James Cochrane
The Way of All Flesh 12
Lord Byron Peter Gunn Selected Prose 80
Thomas Carlyle Alan Shelston Selected Writings 65
Marcus Clarke Stephen Murray-Smith His Natural Life 51
William Cobbett George Woodcock Rural Rides 23
Wilkie Collins J. I. M. Stewart The Moonstone 14
Wilkie Collins Julian Symons The Woman in White 96
Daniel Defoe Anthony Burgess (introduction)
Christopher Bristow
A Journal of the Plague Year 15
Daniel Defoe Pat Rogers A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain 66
Daniel Defoe Juliet Mitchell Moll Flanders 107
Daniel Defoe Angus Ross Robinson Crusoe 7
Thomas De Quincey Alethea Hayter Confessions of an English Opium Eater 61
Thomas De Quincey David Wright Recollections of the Lakes and the Lake Poets 56
Charles Dickens George Woodcock A Tale of Two Cities 54
Charles Dickens John S. Whitley
Arnold Goldman
American Notes for General Circulation 77
Charles Dickens Gordon Spence Barnaby Rudge 90
Charles Dickens J. Hillis Miller (introduction)
Norman Page
Bleak House 63
Charles Dickens Trevor Blount David Copperfield 8
Charles Dickens Raymond Williams (introduction)
Peter Fairclough
Dombey and Son 48
Charles Dickens Angus Calder Great Expectations 3
Charles Dickens David Craig Hard Times 42
Charles Dickens John Holloway Little Dorrit 25
Charles Dickens P. N. Furbank Martin Chuzzlewit 31
Charles Dickens Michael Slater Nicholas Nickleby 113
Charles Dickens Angus Wilson (introduction)
Peter Fairclough
Oliver Twist 17
Charles Dickens Stephen Gill Our Mutual Friend 60
Charles Dickens Deborah A. Thomas Selected Short Fiction 103
Charles Dickens Michael Slater The Christmas Books, Volume 1 (A Christmas Carol/The Chimes) 68
Charles Dickens Michael Slater The Christmas Books, Volume 2 (The Cricket on the Hearth/The Battle of Life/The Haunted Man) 69
Charles Dickens Angus Wilson (introduction)
Arthur J. Cox
The Mystery of Edwin Drood 92
Charles Dickens Malcolm Andrews (introduction)
Angus Easson
The Old Curiosity Shop 75
Charles Dickens Robert Patten The Pickwick Papers 78
Benjamin Disraeli Thom Braun Coningsby 192
Benjamin Disraeli Thom Braun (text and notes)
Rab Butler (introduction)
Sybil; or, The Two Nations 134
George Eliot Unknown Adam Bede 121
George Eliot Barbara Hardy Daniel Deronda 20
George Eliot Peter Coveney Felix Holt 84
George Eliot W. J. Harvey Middlemarch 2
George Eliot A. S. Byatt Mill on the Floss 120
George Eliot Andrew Sanders Romola 139
George Eliot David Lodge Scenes of Clerical Life 87
George Eliot Q. D. Leavis Silas Marner 30
Henry Fielding R. F. Brissenden Joseph Andrews 114
Henry Fielding R. P. C. Mutter Tom Jones 9
John Ford Stephen Gill Three Plays ('Tis Pity She's a Whore/The Broken Heart/Perkin Warbeck) 59
Elizabeth Gaskell Peter Keating Cranford/Cousin Phillis 104
Elizabeth Gaskell Stephen Gill Mary Barton 53
Elizabeth Gaskell Dorothy Collin
Martin Dodsworth
North and South 55
Elizabeth Gaskell Alan Shelston The Life of Charlotte Brontë 99
Elizabeth Gaskell Frank Glover Smith Wives and Daughters 46
George Gissing Bernard Bergonzi New Grub Street 32
Richard Hakluyt Jack Beeching Voyages and Discoveries 73
Thomas Hardy C. H. Sisson Jude the Obscure 131
Thomas Hardy Susan Hill The Distracted Preacher and Other Tales 124
Thomas Hardy Ronald Blythe Far from the Madding Crowd 126
Thomas Hardy Martin Seymour-Smith The Mayor of Casterbridge 125
Thomas Hardy George Woodcock The Return of the Native 122
Thomas Hardy A. Alvarez (introduction)
David Skilton (editor)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles 135
Thomas Hardy David Wright Under the Greenwood Tree 123
William Hazlitt Ronald Blythe Selected Writings 50
Nathaniel Hawthorne Thomas E. Connolly (introduction and notes) The Scarlet Letter and Selected Tales 52 The text of The Scarlet Letter is that of the authoritative Centenary Works edition, published by Ohio State University Press. Connolly's notes and the text are still included in the updated Penguin Classics edition, which has excised the tales and replaced his introduction with one by Nina Baym.
Henry James Anthony Curtis The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw Unknown Still in print as a Penguin Classic.
Samuel Johnson Patrick Cruttwell Selected Writings 33
Samuel Johnson D. J. Enright The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia 108
Ben Jonson Michael Jamieson Three Comedies (Volpone/The Alchemist/Bartholomew Fair) 13
Thomas Malory John Lawlor (introduction)
Janet Cowen
Le Morte d'Arthur, Volume 1 43
Thomas Malory John Lawlor (introduction)
Janet Cowen
Le Morte d'Arthur, Volume 2 44
Christopher Marlowe J. B. Steane The Complete Plays 37
Charles Maturin Alethea Hayter Melmoth the Wanderer 110
Herman Melville Harold Beaver Billy Budd, Sailor and Other Stories 29
Herman Melville Harold Beaver Moby-Dick 82
Herman Melville Harold Beaver Redburn 105
Herman Melville George Woodcock Typee 70
George Meredith George Woodcock The Egoist 34
John Milton C. A. Patrides Selected Prose 91
William Morris Asa Briggs News from Nowhere and Selected Writings and Designs 115
Thomas Nashe J. B. Steane The Unfortunate Traveller and Other Works 67 Still in print as a Penguin Classic.
Thomas Love Peacock Raymond Wright Nightmare Abbey and Crotchet Castle 45 Does not include a bibliography per se, but an editorial note is appended to the introduction, giving a brief list of editions and criticism. Still in print as a Penguin Classic.
Edgar Allan Poe David Galloway Selected Writings 28
Edgar Allan Poe Harold Beaver The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket 97
Edgar Allan Poe Harold Beaver The Science Fiction of Edgar Allan Poe 106
Walter Scott A. N. Wilson Ivanhoe 143
Walter Scott Angus Calder Old Mortality 98
Walter Scott The Heart of Mid-Lothian 129
Walter Scott Andrew Hook Waverley 71
Philip Sidney Maurice Evans Arcadia 111
Tobias Smollett Angus Ross Humphry Clinker 21
Laurence Sterne A. Alvarez (introduction) A Sentimental Journey 26
Laurence Sterne Christopher Ricks (introduction)
Graham Petrie
Tristram Shandy 19 Ricks's introductory essay is reprinted in the current Penguin Classics edition.
Robert Louis Stevenson Jenni Calder Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Stories 117
Jonathan Swift Michael Foot (introduction)
Peter Dixon and John Chalker (notes)
Gulliver's Travels 22
William Makepeace Thackeray John Sutherland
Michael Greenfield
The History of Henry Esmond 49
William Makepeace Thackeray J. I. M. Stewart (introduction)
Donald Hawes
The History of Pendennis 76
William Makepeace Thackeray J. I. M. Stewart Vanity Fair 35
Edward John Trelawny David Wright Records of Shelley, Byron and The Author 88
Anthony Trollope Stephen Wall Can You Forgive Her? 86
Anthony Trollope John Sutherland Phineas Finn 85
Anthony Trollope John Sutherland
Stephen Gill
The Eustace Diamonds 41
Anthony Trollope Laurence Lerner (introduction)
Peter Fairclough
The Last Chronicle of Barset 24
Anthony Trollope John William Ward (introduction)
Robert Mason
North America 38
Mark Twain Justin Kaplan A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 64
Mark Twain Malcolm Bradbury Pudd'nhead Wilson 40
Mark Twain Peter Coveney The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 18
John Webster D. C. Gunby Three Plays (The White Devil/The Duchess of Malfi/The Devil's Law Case) 81
Gilbert White Richard Mabey The Natural History of Selborne 112
Oscar Wilde Hesketh Pearson De Profundis and Other Writings 89
Richard Steele and Joseph Addison Angus Ross Selections from The Tatler and The Spectator 130
Gāmini Salgādo Cony-Catchers and Bawdy Baskets 83
Peter Happé Four Morality Plays (The Castle of Perseverance/Magnyfycence/King Johan/Ane satire of the thrie estaitis) 119
Peter Happé English Mystery Plays 93
Keith Sturgess Three Elizabethan Domestic Tragedies (Arden of Faversham/A Yorkshire Tragedy/A Woman Killed with Kindness) 39
Peter Happé Tudor Interludes 62
Cyril Tourneur
John Webster
Thomas Middleton
Gāmini Salgādo Three Jacobean Tragedies (The Revenger's Tragedy/The White Devil/The Changeling) 6 Authorship of The Revenger's Tragedy (which was published anonymously) was then attributed to Tourneur; today it is generally thought to have been written by Middleton.[8]
Sir George Etherege
William Wycherley
William Congreve
Gāmini Salgādo Three Restoration Comedies (The Man of Mode/The Country Wife/Love for Love) 27 Still in print as a Penguin Classic.
John Marston
Thomas Middleton
Ben Jonson
Philip Massinger
Gāmini Salgādo Four Jacobean City Comedies (The Dutch Courtesan/A Mad World, My Masters/The Devil Is an Ass/A New Way to Pay Old Debts) 101
Horace Walpole
William Beckford
Mary Shelley
Mario Praz (introduction) Three Gothic Novels (The Castle of Otranto/Vathek/Frankenstein) 36 Still in print as a Penguin Classic. The text of Frankenstein is that of the revised 1832 edition.

The cover art is a detail from J. H. Fuseli's 1781 oil painting The Nightmare, and the detail was retained when the book was first reprinted as a Penguin Classic in 1986. However, reprints from 2003 onwards[9] feature the detail of a photograph by Sir Simon Marsden instead.[10]

2012 to present

Author Title Essayist Essay Notes
Jane Austen Persuasion Elizabeth Bowen Unknown
Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights Virginia Woolf Wuthering Heights
G. K. Chesterton The Man Who Was Thursday Unknown Unknown
Wilkie Collins The Moonstone T. S. Eliot The Moonstone
Daniel Defoe Robinson Crusoe David Blewett The Island and the World The essay is taken from a chapter in Blewett's Defoe's Art of Fiction: Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, Colonel Jack, and Roxana (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979).
Henry Fielding Tom Jones R. P. C. Mutter Tom Jones The essay is a reprint of Mutter's introduction to the original Penguin English Library edition (see above).
Elizabeth Gaskell North and South V. S. Pritchett The South Goes North The essay is from Sir Victor's 1942 collection of essays, In My Good Books.
Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter D. H. Lawrence Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter The essay is from Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature.
Mary Shelley Frankenstein Paul Cantor The Nightmare of Romantic Idealism The text is that of the 1985 Penguin Classics edition, edited by Maurice Hindle, i. e. the 1832 text. The essay is taken from a chapter in Cantor's book, Creature and Creator: Myth-Making and English Romanticism (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985).
Laurence Sterne Tristram Shandy V. S. Pritchett Tristram Shandy
Bram Stoker Dracula John Sutherland Why Does the Count Come to England? The essay is taken from Sutherland's Is Heathcliff a Murderer? Great Puzzles in Nineteenth Century Fiction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).
Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Harold Bloom Unknown
Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray Peter Ackroyd - The essay is a reprint of Ackroyd's introduction to the first Penguin Classics edition.


  1. ^ a b c d Kelly, Stuart. "The new Penguin English Library is a far cry from its 1963 version". The Guardian.
  2. ^ a b c d "About Penguin Classics". Penguin Classics.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Akbar, Arifa. "A whole new chapter for the Penguin English Library". Independent.
  4. ^ Andrew Sanders. Wooten, William; Donaldson, George (eds.). Reading Penguin: A Critical Anthology. p. 112. ISBN 1443850829.
  5. ^ Keating, Peter. "What's new". Peter Keating: Author and vegetarian cook. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Culture and Anarchy and Other Selected Prose". Penguin UK. Penguin. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  7. ^ Austen, Jane (2003). Mansfield Park. Penguin Classics. pp. 440–465. ISBN 9780141439808.
  8. ^ Maus, Katharine (1998). Four Revenge Tragedies. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics. p. i. ISBN 0192838784.
  9. ^ Patton, Phil. "Reflections on a Penguin-iversary". AIGA. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Back cover of Three Gothic Novels (Classics, 2003)".