January 2021 will mark the 70th anniversary of the death of George Orwell, one of Britain’s and the world’s most iconic writers. His literary works were a scathing social critique of totalitarianism and an outspoken support for democratic socialism.
For more than half a century, his writings have been bestsellers at the UK publishing house Penguin, but this year’s anniversary marks the cancellation of all copyrights. In order to celebrate the writer and conclude the exclusive publications, the publishing house has created a special collaboration with the British artist Heath Kane.
Under the creative direction of Suzanne Dean, Heath Kane has created new covers for four of Orwell’s great classics. The selected titles are Animal Farm, 1984, Down and Out in Paris and London and Homage to Catalonia.
George Orwell began working with Penguin back in the 1940s and since then his titles have not only been literary landmarks for all, but also a constant source of inspiration for lovers of illustration and book cover design. Here is a selection of the best.
Animal Farm was first published by Penguin in 1951, its original design created by Edward Young and perfected by typographer Jan Tschichold. The best covers include the 1965 cover by Paul Hogarth, the late 1980s designed by Ditz and the unmistakable 2008 cover by Shepard Fairey. And let’s not forget the 2013 version by Den Pearson and finally the 2016 and 2020 versions by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Heath Kane’s new proposal closes the circle.
George Orwell first published 1984 with Penguin in 1954. Among the most iconic covers we cannot fail to mention the 1962 cover by Germano Facetti, the 1966 cover by William Roberts, the 1980 version photographed by Humphrey Sutton, the 2000 edition designed by Stephen Conroy, the unmistakable 2008 cover by Shepard Fairey, then the 2020 version by Coralie Bickford-Smith and finally the new creation by Heath Kane.
DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON
Also for Down and Out in Paris and London, the first edition for Penguin was by Germano Facetti, 1962. Then we find, in order, Bill Brandt’s 1998 version, Shepard Fairey’s 2008 version, David Pearson’s 2013 version and Heath Kane’s new proposal of 2021.
HOMAGE TO CATALONIA
Penguin’s versions of Homage to Catalonia feature Romek Marber 1961, Christopher Corr in 1987, Joàn Miró in 2000 and a Robert Capa photograph in 2013. Finally, Heath Kane’s new graphic proposal.
As well as packaging some of the greatest literary texts in history, these covers make George Orwell’s books highly sought-after collectors’ items for all design and art lovers.
The versions created by Heath Kane were launched on the market in early January and are now available for purchase worldwide on the official website of the British publisher Penguin.
Words by Federica Cimorelli