Stephen Russ was born in 1919, trained with Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious at the Royal College of Art in the 1930's and taught design and printing at Bath Academy of Art from 1950 until his retirement in 1982. (d.1983)

Like the majority of the lecturers, in addition to teaching, he worked independently, in his case as a freelance of book covers for a variety of distinguished publishers. A memorable commission was from Penguin Books to redraw the  that represented D.H. Lawrence for the cover of the 1960 unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, that went on to sell 3 million copies after Penguin’s successful defence against the charges of indecency brought against them; this was a huge and important event that contributed to ushering in the ‘swinging sixties’. Stephen originated many of the cover images/patterns for The Penguin Poets series throughout the 1960’s, he told me that the fees paid for his summer holidays, caravan expeditions though out Europe. Prior to his Penguin Poets covers, he had produced from as early as 1952  covers that were in contrast to the more sombre cover patterns created by other designers in this series. This particular style of an overall patterned background with a central label identifying title and author had a German precursor and was probably introduced to Penguin by the arrival of Jan Tschichold who worked at Penguin from 1947-49 and was very influential in determining the austere appearance of post war covers. He was followed by Hans Schmoller, another German typographer who started at Penguin in 1947 after having worked for the Curwen Press since the end of the war.

Stephen is credited with designing ...... Penguin Poets covers, there are others, particularly late 50's early 60's designs, his work but are not attributed to him. Most editions are still to be found in second hand books shops and on the web from or usually for under £5. [Tip: if buying online and no photo of the edition is shown, then check with the seller that Stephen Russ is credited for the cover design. Some editions may still not have his name listed even though the cover is unmistakable.]
cover designs quiz
The idea of the quiz, on the following four pages, is to see if Stephen’s artwork has retained his original visual correspondence with the poems. Remember all of the poets are well known and they were not all alive during the 1960’s when the books were originally published.
"a cover design should reflect, or be relevant to, the contents and character of the book" - Schmoller.

Graham Day
10th April 2007

Stephen Russ

The Penguin Poets
cover designs

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