Three of our most established illustrators recently worked with Penguin Random House/Vintage Classics on some illustrations for a series of yellowbacks to celebrate WH Smith’s 225th Anniversary.
Yellowbacks were cheap novels published in the UK in the late 18th Century to compete with “penny dreadfuls”. Nowadays yellowbacks are collector’s items but in the past they were marketed as affordable and entertaining reading as rail travel became more popular. William Henry Smith, the grandson of WH Smith’s founder spotted an opportunity for commuters to read on the train and made an offer for sole bookstall rights in London and Northwest Railway lines. The first bookstall opened in Euston Station in 1848, and by 1935 there were 115 across the rail network.
Fast-forward to 2017 and you can now pick up a new series of yellowbacks in WH Smith stores to celebrate the company’s 225th anniversary. Dave Hopkins illustrated the cover of Silas Marner, Bill Sanderson worked on Tess of the D’Urbervilles and The Turn of the Screw and Pastiche provided illustrations for The Warden. Other books in the series are Hard Times, Sherlock Homes and Jayne Eyre. Look out for them in WH Smith next time you travel!
See some close-ups of the original artwork below: