Decorating my apartment with Coralie Bickford-Smith’s Penguin classics


As a writer and academic, I have a lot of books, ranging from textbooks on cyber intelligence to young-adult tales of love at first sight. While I have fond memories around a number of them, nothing quite matches my passion for my ever-growing collection of Coralie Bickford-Smith titles.

Bickford-Smith is the award-winning designer and illustrator behind a series of reimagined clothbound hardcovers for Penguin Classics, which often feature a repeating motif in the style of Victorian book bindings. I currently own more than 50 titles redesigned by Bickford-Smith, and proudly display my favorites on a mini desktop shelf in my home office. (The rest are divided between other shelves and storage boxes.)

A selection of the author’s favorite Bickford-Smith titles, displayed on a mini desktop shelf (a similar design can be found here).

My first Coralie Bickford-Smith was a gift. When I completed graduate school eight years ago, my grandmother presented me with a bright yellow hardback of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

“You’ve studied hard enough,” she said as she gently patted the book, before doing the same to the top of my head. “Time to take a break and read some of your favorite books.”

I was amazed—both by my grandmother, who, despite not knowing how to speak English, braved a solo trip to Barnes & Noble to purchase what she knew to be…

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