Archive for September, 2012

David Pelham studied at St Martin’s School of Art in the 50s and had worked on the export magazine The Ambassador (later retitled International Textiles), the arts magazine Studio International and Harper’s Bazaar; he joined Penguin Books in 1968 after the departure of the great Alan Aldridge. Following the departure of Germano Facetti in 1972, David Pelham’s role as art director for fiction was expanded to overall art director. He left Penguin in 1979.

Pelham’s first covers for Penguin Science Fiction were for the 1971 reprints of Fred Hoyle‘s novels The Black Cloud (1957), Fifth Planet (co-authored with Geoffrey Hoyle, 1963) and October the First Is Too Late (1966).


A Clockwork Orange

Among Pelham’s most iconic covers was that for a reprint of Anthony Burgess‘s classic novella A Clockwork Orange (1962) released to coincide with Stanley Kubrick‘s 1971 film adaptation.

The director had shown no interest in the remarketing of the book so Pelham had freedom to design the cover without too much reliance on the film. This classic image was actually a last minute job because the original commissioned artist had been unable to come up with anything satisfactory within the time available and Pelham had been forced to take on the job himself.

Pelham himself is not overly fond of the cover:

“I don’t like the image. I really don’t but it has become iconographic. I don’t like it because it was primarily done overnight, with very little thought, really. It was an emergency: a graphic design emergency because we had to a have a cover, because we’d miss the hit of the movie.”

Nevertheless the cover has become a pop art iconic image, adorning posters and t-shirts. While the film version was banned in the UK Pelham’s cover defined the film for many denied access to Kubrick’s masterpiece. (more…)