It is interesting to see how little has been made of the half centenary this autumn of the demise of the Penguin Cerise series. The books in the series helped define in Britain the art of travel writing. True, we gave the topic a good outing in hidden europe earlier this month, with our article Cerise Diversions in Issue 29 of the magazine.
So good to see that the Guardian newspaper has now also marked this literary anniversary. In today's Guardian Review there is a short piece by hidden europe co-editor Nicky Gardner on the social and literary importance of the Cerise Penguins. The series escorted readers from home shores to Mediterranean islands, Amazon jungles and Arctic wastes. In its heyday, this landmark series of Penguin paperbacks numbered among its contributors some of the finest writers of the day: DH Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and Vita Sackville-West.
The Cerise Penguins had a hefty dose of Boys' Own stuff - men dodging avalanches and tussling with tigers. But the series showcased women's writing too, with Freya Stark on Arabia, Karen Blixen on Africa and Vita Sackville-West's meditative account of a journey to Persia. More in today's Guardian Review - though sadly, the Cerise Penguins article in the newspaper is not available online.
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