Roger Mayne Penguin and Pelican Book Covers (1962-71)

Image: Maxwell Anderson

His approach was born out of a reaction to the times but also showed a remarkable prescience. Mayne’s photographs came to prominence in the early sixties. At this time photography was exponentially expanding across the fields of information communication, photojournalism and advertising, and was adopted by architects, graphic designers and avant-garde artists. This was the era of working-class playwrights, authors and filmmakers breaking through the glass ceiling of cultural access, demanding ‘their’ stories be told. Radical architecture became socially minded, and avant-garde pop artists and graphic designers identified with photography as a modern counterblast to the cultural old-guard. Mayne’s images of working class communities, inner city streets, teenagers and fashion and music sub-cultures, despite their realist complexities, were appealing to them all. His vivid photographs appeared on the covers of Penguin and Pelican’s influential social science collection, re-designed by Germano Facetti who introduced photography to their paperback covers, as well as such classics as Peter and Iona Opie’s The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren and Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners, both published in 1959.

—Anna Douglas, Curator, Roger Mayne at The Photographers’ Gallery, 3 March – 11 June 2017.

A full feature on Mayne’s Penguin and Pelican book covers is available, along with Anna Douglas’ essay on the photographer, in the new issue of our periodical Loose Associations. The book can be ordered here. Book photographs by Maxwell Anderson. With thanks to Penguin Classics. Full information on the Roger Mayne exhibition can be seen here.



  1. I am one of the boys on the cover of Adolescent boys of East London. I visited the gallery Sat 4th March. I grew up in Southam St. I enjoyed telling many visitor’s about the people in the photographs. The two ladies in one of the main pictures of Southam St are my aunties. I’ll be visiting again.

  2. I lived in Southam St until 1962 and I am one of the boys on the cover of Adolescent boys of East London. I know many of the people in Roger Mayne’s photo’s. I attracted many people and comments when talking about the photo’s on a visit. Will be visiting again.

  3. Had a lovely visit to the gallery on Sat 1st April and Met Karen the curator,Interesting views of certain photographs by students from The university of Westminster. I really did enjoy talking to people and giving them an idea of what it was like growing up in West London and particularly Kensal Town W10.

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