Tenderness and relaxed reverie in these photos of Jack London and T. S. Eliot, both aged either 8 or 9 (possibly 1885, 1896/97). Also portraits of retreat. Jack London is possibly in Heinold’s Saloon on the San Franciscan seafront, his reading a respite from the hardship of his upbringing, at work 12-18 hours daily; Eliot in his family’s summer home in Massachusetts, his reading an escape from illness and isolation – “setting the drug of dreams against the pain of living,” wrote one biographer.
Allen Lane, the founder of Penguin books, was a man who liked to be seen riding a virtuous horse though his spurs were as sharp as an abacus: money was his game and he chanced to sell his new Penguin range through his Penguincubator in 1937, in tobacconists alongside newspapers and boiled sweets, also a few placed as concessions in branches of F. W. Woolworth’s. One Penguincubator was commissioned at Charing Cross Station, placed next to a machine vending cigarettes. (6d the price of a packet of fags, 6d the price of the first Penguins, though am not sure if Lane had thought through how you were supposed to keep the books alight without a filter.) Booksellers in the Charing Cross locality objected to the Penguincubator and it was removed. It would seem that they were never successful in any case.