Online Exhibition

With the aim of using book history to open a constructive dialogue with psychological professionals on the wider risks and opportunities of media work, the exhibition collected some of the major Penguin titles on the 'psy' disciplines: psyschology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and others. Penguin were an authoritative and respectable publisher who in the period c.1940 to 1980 commissioned (or republished) a variety of psychological topics for the general reader, including: IQ tests, attachment, brainwashing, sexual diversity, bereavement, feminism, psychotherapy, antipsychiatry, anorexia nervosa, wartime morale, and the Troubles. The rich narratives behind many of these volumes illuminate the complexities of writing for the mass-market.

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Orange and white typographic book cover for The Psychology of Fear and Courage with heading A Penguin Special.




The Psychology of Fear and Courage (1940)

The distinctively packaged Penguin Specials were a series intended to provide topical comment on current affairs. They began in 1937 in response to the growing international crisis and often had strong sales. This wartime Special, described fondly by Edward Glover (1888­–1972) as his only bestseller, is adapted from a series of BBC radio talks. Glover had originally trained in medicine at Glasgow University before studying psychoanalysis in Berlin and later becoming a key interwar member of the British Psycho-Analytical Society. The book indicates the public and political importance of psychoanalytic psychology at time. While clinical psychoanalysis was highly restricted in its availability, psychoanalytic accounts of problems such as political aggression, wartime neurosis, and child mental health were popularized for a mass audience by books and broadcasts such as Glover’s, contributing to the growing diffusion and authorization of psychological concepts.

Blue and white typographic book cover for The ABC of Psychology with drawing of pelican.



The ABC of psychology (1944)

Penguin’s Pelican imprint was conceived as a library of authoritative knowledge for the everyday reader. Pelican began in 1937 and was terminated in 1984 (over concerns that the imprint was too highbrow). This Pelican is a ‘takeover’ – a paperback edition taken over from an original hardback edition with another publisher. Pelicans could also be ‘originals’, directly commissioned by Penguin. The author, C.K. Ogden (1889–1957), would be unclassifiable in today’s professional distinctions. While his formal education was as a Classics scholar, he was self-educated in philosophy, psychology and linguistics, and was a prolific author and editor. He is best known for his conception and promotion of Basic English, a proposed simplified universal language. This eclectic book shows how Ogden hoped to make psychology appealing to readers by answering profound questions that might have earlier been the province of theology or philosophy. According to Ogden, psychology is a foundation for all other disciplines, and tells us who we are, where we go wrong, and how we might be improved.

Book cover for Child Care and the Growth of Love showing photograph of baby’s hand holding a woman’s fingers.



Child Care and the Growth of Love (1953)

Attachment theory has been a staple of British childcare for many decades, providing a psychological account for the basis of infant and adult mental health. It has also been central to the scientific authorisation of British welfare state politics. This Pelican is an abridged and simplified version of John Bowlby’s 1951 report to the World Health Organisation entitled Maternal Care and Mental Health (1951). Bowlby (1907–1990) had been chasing the popular book market for several years but failed to deliver a book on Difficult Children that he contracted with Penguin in 1940. The manuscript of the Pelican edition of Child Care was written not by Bowlby, but by the penal reformer Margery Fry (1874–1958), who saw the potential in a simplified and rewritten version of Bowlby’s specialist report. At the commissioning stages the book is explicitly framed as a collaboration or ‘joint effort’ by Bowlby and Fry, since the latter would shorten and rewrite the original text. (She also took care of tedious work such as the many copyright permissions requests.) Yet the eventual contract is made solely with Bowlby, who reaps the rewards of what proves to be a strong commercial success. Fry seems to have been rewarded for her role with £5 worth in copies of the final paperback. The photo-image cover is from a 1983 reprint, and rather obviously genders childcare as women’s work.

Blue and white book cover for Know Your Own IQ showing image of pencil and IQ test question.



Know Your Own I.Q. (1962)

This Pelican Original was proposed to Penguin by an existing author, the academic psychologist Hans Eysenck (1916–1997). The book was inspired by the success of the Associated Television gameshow Pencil and Paper, which used questions in the style of an IQ test. The book was a strong commercial success, selling 200,000 copies in its first year of publication, and paving the way for a follow-up volume, Check your own I.Q. (1966). This book made psychometric testing popular, accessible, and enjoyable as a competitive game that could be played against other readers and even against the test’s creators. Penguin archival correspondence shows many readers engaging closely with the book, particularly as they spotted both errors and possible alternative answers (the latter lowered the reliability of the tests). Although Eysenck’s books of IQ tests were published without problem in the UK, they aroused professional anxieties in other countries over the potential for coaching. This minor controversy pales in comparison with the later controversies that dogged Eysenck during his life (including his psychological racism), and the re-evaluation of his research integrity that has taken place after his death.


Book cover for Techniques of Persuasion showing drawing of brain on paper with section torn back to show Lord Kitchener Wants You recruiting poster.



Techniques of Persuasion (1963)

The Pelican original was contracted under the working title The Psychology of Propaganda with an established Penguin author, the medically trained J.A.C. (James Alexander Campbell) Brown (1911–1964). It was intended to rival (or cash in on) bestsellers such as the US journalist Vance Packard’s 1957 The Hidden Persuaders (on advertising) and the British psychiatrist William Sargant’s 1957 Battle for the Mind (on brainwashing). The working title was changed in attempt to emulate Sargant’s success, but the book was intended as a ‘conscious counter-blast’ to Sargant since it was sceptical about the reality of brainwashing. The topic took Brown into historical (and copyediting) debates for which was he was poorly qualified, leading to a painful editorial process of correction and revision. His editor gently admonished him that ‘the easiest thing in the world for a reviewer to do is pick up any points that are not accurate, be rude about them, and not pay attention to the main argument of the book’. (This warning is vindicated, as shown later, by the reception of Rona Fields’s A Society on the Run). Even then, the New Statesman’s review noted diplomatically that Brown’s ‘touch as a historian may seem a trifle uneven’. The striking cover design is by Germano Facetti (1926–2006), a leading postwar graphic designer who had overhauled Penguin’s outdated typographic cover designs. Facetti, who had been arrested as a member of the Italian resistance, was a survivor of the Mauthausen slave labour camp.

Book cover for Sexual Deviation showing variations on symbols for male and female.



Sexual Deviation (1964)

This Pelican original is by the psychiatrist turned psychoanalytic psychotherapist Anthony Storr (1920–2001). Storr was already a published Penguin author and had a growing profile in newspapers and magazines as an expert commentator on issues such as brainwashing, racism, criminality and aggression. This book was amongst first entries in the series Studies in Social Pathology, edited by the Edinburgh-based psychiatrist, Morris Carstairs. Its central aim is to use psychoanalytic theory to establish a continuity between ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ sexuality. The Wolfenden Report of 1957 had advocated the legalization in England and Wales of homosexuality between adult males. In similar fashion, this short book positions sexual variation as a matter best understood by psychological expertise rather than the criminal law. A review for New Society endorsed this effort to supplant ‘the rantings of chief constables’ and commented, ‘There, but for the grade of God, go all of us’. For Storr, all sexual differences were essentially ‘forms of immaturity, childish attitudes which have not been outgrown’. This view of homosexuality as deficiency, not difference, was soon challenged by social and cultural changes in succeeding decades, as the case of Moses Laufer’s Adolescent Disturbance and Breakdown will illustrate.



Death of the Family (1971)

The Pelican is the paperback edition of an original for Penguin’s hardback imprint, Allen Lane. The author, David Cooper (1931–1986), was a South African psychiatrist active in countercultural and Marxist revolutionary networks in the 1960s and 1970s, and a key proponent of ‘anti-psychiatry’. Cooper had a canny eye for the literary market, having earlier contracted with Penguin a volume to accompany the 1967 Dialectics of Liberation congress of radical intellectuals. Cooper’s fundamental psychiatric position was that only revolutionary social change could bring about authentic mental health – which would also be radically different to health as currently (i.e. ideologically) conceived. Death of the Family was often met mockery or at least bafflement by book reviewers, who were confronted with a text that moved freely across genres and registers in its indictment of capitalist society and bourgeois standards. While published reviews were often negative, the text appealed to Penguin’s countercultural audience, particularly in their felt relationship to Cooper, who was unafraid of intimate, inner-worldly disclosures. Cooper owed much to his editor, Neil Middleton, who had strong Marxist and progressive Catholic sympathies. Editorial files for later work show that Cooper relied financially on multiple advances on his royalties.

Book cover for A Society on the Run showing black and white photograph of damaged terraced housing.



A Society on the Run (1973)

This original for the Penguin Education imprint was authored by the US psychologist and activist Rona M. Fields (1932–2016). Subtitled A Psychology of Northern Ireland, the book offers Fields’s findings on the harmful psychological effects of the Troubles, presented from what she regarded as an ‘insider’ viewpoint. The book was published in October 1973 but was withdrawn shortly afterwards by Penguin following a scathing review in The Sunday Times. Fields claimed vocally, particularly in the Irish press, that the withdrawal was due to pressure on Penguin from the British government to suppress her findings. Penguin repudiated Fields’s account and offered to republish the book in a revised and corrected edition. Mutual trust between author and publisher was though in short supply. The publishing agreement between Fields and Penguin eventually dissolved, and her text was published in 1976 an expanded and revised form in the US by Temple University Press as Society under Siege: A Psychology of Northern Ireland. You can view a 1979 BBC interview with Rona Fields HERE (opens in new window).

Book cover for Psychoanalysis and Feminism showing watercolour of Freud’s head and shoulders gazing at a much smaller figure of naked woman.



Psychoanalysis and Feminism (1974)

This Pelican original was contracted with the lay psychoanalyst Juliet Mitchell (1940–) whose career and original training were in English Literature, and who had written a general Penguin introduction to ‘Women’s Liberation’, Woman’s Estate (1971). This book shows the great public contention around psychological, psychiatric and psychoanalytic ideas in the second wave of feminism. Freudian ideas had been taken to task as part of a wider cultural and societal critique of patriarchy. Mitchell’s text is though a defence of Freudian psychoanalysis. It also rebukes the radical psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich and the radical psychiatrist R.D. Laing, both of whom Mitchell sees as central ‘psychopolitical’ ideologists of the era. The book’s public splash was amplified by its simultaneous publication with the takeover of the US author Phyllis Chesler’s Women and Madness, a stringent critique of patriarchal abuses within psychiatry and psychotherapy. Mitchell’s book was often paired with Chesler’s in reviews and commentary in a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including Spare Rib, New Statesman, New Society, Morning Star, The Economist, Times Educational Supplement, The Sunday Times, Times Higher Education Supplement, The Observer, Times Literary Supplement, The Guardian and The Scotsman. There was even a brief notice in Vogue: Mitchell is ‘the one clear voice in the feminist wilderness’ who offers ‘an analysis of our patriarchal culture which she believes to be in the death throes of its own irrationality’.

Blue and white typographic book cover for Psychiatry To-day.



Psychiatry To-day (1952)

This Pelican Original by the psychiatrist David Stafford-Clark (1916–1999) showed Penguin the potential post-war readership for a general introduction to psychiatry. The book sold at least 140,000 copies in its lifetime and it remained in print until the early 1970s. It was partly a product of its author’s thwarted literary ambition: Stafford-Clark was convinced he was an unrecognized major poetic talent, and he used his dealings with Penguin to pitch unsuccessfully a collection of his poetry directly to the founder, Allen Lane. This book was a launch pad for Stafford-Clark’s subsequent career as a broadcaster. His BBC TV career started in 1955, before rapidly flourishing via the series Lifeline (1957–1962), through which he became ‘the BBC’s psychiatrist’. At the height of his fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Stafford-Clark was a minor national celebrity. He was also inclined to use his media profile to comment on wider spiritual, moral, and cultural issues. As a BBC producer noted in 1965, Stafford-Clark’s broadcasts were like ‘sermons’ whose ‘aim is to do good to the general public’: ‘My personal reaction is “who the devil is this dealer with sick people, to pontificate like this about the whole of human life?”’. The cover shown is from the Pelican first edition. When the cover was redesigned for the second edition by the leading book designer Germano Facetti, Stafford-Clark rejected the proposal, and suggested instead the image of a volcano. Eventually, an abstract grid design was substituted.

Book cover for Dying showing silhouette of male figure gradually fading out.



Dying (1967)

This Pelican original by the psychiatrist John Hinton (1926–2016) was commissioned after an approach by Penguin. Hinton was a pioneer in the psychiatry of terminal illness in the UK, and a long-standing collaborator with Cicely Saunders, the leader in hospice care. Hinton and Penguin debated the title, whether the book was about Death, Understanding Death, Looking at Death or Facing Death – or, in the end, just Dying. Like many Pelican originals, the process of authorship was highly collaborative. Hinton’s wife was paid by Penguin for her typing, referencing, and indexing duties, and the entire text was overhauled by an in-house editor to improve Hinton’s ponderous prose, which was suited better to medical journals. The book was favourably reviewed in the USA by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (inventor of the five-stage model of grief), marking its international significance. Dying remained in print until the 1990s, sustained perhaps by its appeal to a growing professional market in end-of-life care as much as to the general reader.

Book cover for Student Casualties showing labelled pillars with figurines on top representing different prevalence of various student problems.



Student Casualties (1969)

Anthony Ryle (1927–2016) worked as a general practitioner before founding in 1964 the Student Health Service at the University of Sussex. The University itself was only a few years older, having been opened in 1961 as part of the post-war expansion of UK higher education. Ryle’s book was contracted first to Penguin’s hardcover imprint, Allen Lane, before moving to a Pelican paperback in 1973. The book received significant press attention given the timeliness of its topic in the context of student protests across Europe and North America. The book though was primarily a response to worrying statistics on phenomena such as student mental illness, unplanned pregnancy, and degree completion rates. Specialized student health services were uncommon at the time. As a reviewer for the Times Educational Supplement noted, it was a manifesto for ‘the setting up in every university of an all-embracing health service’. For its part, the Daily Mail ran with the headline ‘Doctor urges sex advice in college’. Ryle’s final manuscript was heavily rewritten at Penguin’s request by Dorothy Padden, a freelance style editor who had also overhauled Maxwell Jones’s Pelican on Social Psychiatry. The task took her 31 hours, for which she received £23.12.6.

Book cover for Babyhood showing photograph of two babies, one of whom has bunch of keys held in mouth.



Babyhood (1974)

This Pelican original is by the psychologist Penelope Leach (1937–), who was already a Penguin author, and an established journalist and broadcaster on child development. The book was intended as a summary of contemporary expertise on infant development rather than as a baby manual of prescriptive advice. It was an enduring success for Penguin, remaining in print until the early 1990s, and (unusually) appearing also in a 1970s Penguin hardback edition for the library market.  Penguin editorial correspondence shows the importance to the commercial success of Pelican titles on decisions made by major bookselling chains, who were the main conduit to the casual reader. There is considerable frustration from both author and editor with a major bookseller’s stocking decisions, the calibre of their shopfloor staff, and the difficulties in ordering titles through them.

Book cover for Adolescent Disturbance and Breakdown showing photographic portrait of pensive young woman.



Adolescent Disturbance and Breakdown (1975)

The psychoanalyst Moses Laufer (1928–2006) trained as a social worker before moving into youth work. He was central to the founding of the Brent Consultation Centre (now Brent Centre for Young People) – a psychotherapeutic treatment, research and educational centre for young people. This Pelican original is one of three volumes created in collaboration with the mental health charity MIND, which received a share of the royalties. Laufer claims in his book that homosexuality in older adolescents is ‘always a sign of the presence of disturbance’ attributable to a repudiation of their maturing body. This pathologizing account of gay adolescents was contested by the gay campaigning group East London Faggots, who wrote to Penguin (and to MIND) requesting that the book be withdrawn or that a rejoinder be inserted. Both Penguin and MIND agreed with this criticism. Penguin suggested to Laufer that he alter the text in later reprints to acknowledge that gay men and women might be free and happy on their own terms. Laufer declined, and other possibilities such as a disclaimer from MIND were impractical. The text therefore reprinted verbatim.

Book cover for Depression showing photographic portrait of young woman leaning against a brick wall.



Depression (1975)

The guide to depression by the psychiatrist Ross Mitchell (1934–2016) was a further MIND Special, rich with illustrations and photographs. Originally intended as a Penguin Education title for ‘student social workers, psychiatrists, doctors’, it was reallocated to the general market, along with the other MIND Specials, after the closure of the Education imprint. After a first run of 18,000 copies, the book was reprinted the same year, indicating its commercial success. According to the British Journal of Psychiatry, the book used ‘a vocabulary unsuitable for non-specialists’. The Observer on the other hand thought it was written ‘without jargon and with welcome clarity’. The book’s successful transition from educational to general market indicates that Penguin knew better the familiarity of its readership with psychological and psychiatric terms. The psychologically or psychiatrically innocent reader – at least in the market for Pelicans -- was increasingly a figment of the professional imagination.

Book cover for A Complete Guide to Therapy showing head in profile and brain outlined in string.



A Complete Guide to Therapy (1978)

This Pelican is a takeover of a 1976 Pantheon edition for the US market by the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Joel Kovel (1936–2018). It was billed in the USA as a ‘credible consumer’s guide to therapy’, where it received much favourable press attention. The Wall Street Journal declared that Kovel’s book ‘will undoubtedly help match thousands of people to the right treatment’. The book offers critical overviews of twelve different therapeutic approaches, including person-centred, psychoanalytic, and behavioural modalities, as well as now defunct practices such as EST seminars. Penguin hoped to commission a new preface on the UK’s different system (in which the NHS was of course prominent), alongside a list of addresses for the different UK therapeutic bodies – although only the latter appeared in print. The comparative lack of UK broadsheet press reviews suggests a lukewarm reception: in the late 1970s, there was perhaps not (yet) a significant popular readership who understood themselves as consumers rather than patients. Moreover, both in-house and published UK commentary took issue with Kovel’s closing Marxist reflections, which were dismissed by the psychiatrist Hugh Freeman as ‘little more than politburo jargon’ in his review for New Society.

Book cover for Anorexia Nervosa showing bent and distorted cutlery.



Anorexia Nervosa (1980)

This Pelican original by the psychiatrist R.L. Palmer (1944–2020) was pitched to Penguin in late 1976 as a book that would meet public demand for reliable information on this topic, which increasingly prominent in national consciousness. There was no other UK paperback title at the time, and Penguin were clear on the potential demand for this book, which they rapidly contracted. The book took another 4 years to appear because of requests for extensive rewriting from the Penguin editorial team, requests which the author struggled to meet successfully. Palmer was eventually confronted with an editorial invitation to pay around £200 from his royalties for a thorough re-write by a subeditor. He issued an ultimatum: Penguin could either take the words that he had authored or abandon the project. Penguin relented; they were conscious of the book’s potential, and wary of market entrants from other publishers. Despite these editorial concerns, the book was well-received, with extensive radio and media coverage, and a brief extract was adapted for the popular tabloid, The Daily Star.




This is the end of the exhibition.


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