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Dream Library

The world’s largest collection of Penguin Classics is not in the publisher’s warehouse, but in Steve Hare’s house. The man has collected the series for over 45 years, according to Metro Mail in the UK. The bookworm has more than 15,000 titles on his shelves, some wrapped in plastic bags. Looking at his Penguin collection, I’m afraid that I have a long way to go. Apart from taking in consideration of the translation, I almost always prefer Penguins edition of classics. For the sake of uniformity, I would acquire a Penguin edition in addition to the desired translation.

Do you prefer/collect a specific series?

21 Responses

  1. I love Library of America but it is limited to, of course, American authors and some not entirely American -Nabokov, for example

  2. What a fantastic library. This makes me wish I hadn’t donated my library of books. Now I only have a few hundred left.

    • I wish I have been collecting more scrupulously. Just look at his Penguin titles, the colors of the spines stitch up a beautiful drapery in his study.

  3. wow thats quite impressive. I only have one Persephone book but I want more so who knows – that might turn into a collection.

  4. I saw this in the train 3 days ago!!! What a commendable gesture to donate it to the British library when he passed on one day.

    Steve not only collects Penguin Classics, but he only collects the Orange, Green and Red collections. The only one I own on Orange label is “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith.

    When it comes to classics, I do prefer to read Vintage though.

    I do not collect a specific edition. But would this recent Du Maurier collection counts? 🙂

    • Du Maurier is my new favorite author! I am digging her works. Penguins, unfortunately, doesn’t publish my preferred translation of my favorite novel, The Master and Margarita. I have the Vintage edition, three copies in fact, because the book has been so heavily used.

      You’re definitely correct about Steve. The Orange, Green, and Red (and Blue) are not very common here in the United States. Most of my copies from that series were acquired in Hong Kong when I visited home.

  5. WOW — I am so jealous!

    If money were no object – I would enjoy collecting Penguin classics as well (although I prefer the black covers to the orange). I really enjoy the commentary provided in these books, as well as the sleek cover design.

    • I also read the introductory remarks and commentary of Penguin editions, usually after I finished the main text. If I have to weed my collection, I almost never part with the Penguins. I like their clean design.

  6. I mentioned on my blog quite a while ago that one can actually order the entire Penguin Classics set all at once, from amazon. com .


    The funny thing is, the price seems to have since gone up to $13,000.

    How old is this guy now? If I started collecting them now, one by one, I’d probably be dead already 45 years from now (not to mention broke!). 🙂

  7. What amazing looking shelves! I do collect Virago Modern Classics, but I go through phases where I collect them more than I read them, then feel guilty about collecting them without reading them, then mend my ways, then slip back into contemporary fiction. So I am an off-and-on collector I s’pose.

    • Let’s just put aside the issue of whether I enjoy the books or not, the beautiful drapery that these collective spines make makes me want to start a collection. A few people have mentioned Virago series, I think it’s time to look into those seriously.

  8. That is so beautiful! I tend to buy Penguin for classics, but otherwise I’m all over the place.

  9. I am all over the place – collected Wordsworth’s Classics for a while when I was a student though as there is a bookshop on Trafalgar Road that sells them really cheap.

  10. Oh the Penguin Deluxe Editions are real beauties! I only have two so far, but that’s what I’d like to collect 🙂

  11. I recently fell in love with Penguin editions when I went to a bookstore in Japan and saw such a lovely mix of old classic and modern classic there.

    This guy looks pretty hot with all those Penguins in the background. Hard to think that he started collecting when I was right around 4 years old.

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