If you’ve been to the Worktown 75th Birthday exhibition at Bolton Museum as well as visiting this site then perhaps you have noticed a design connection between them. Our web designer Perry was inspired by the iconic orange and cream design of the Penguin ‘Specials’ paperbacks and we continued the theme for the exhibition display panels.
One reason for this was to bring colour in to the exhibition which features over 80 black and white photographs. But there is another important reason for us to reference the design of the Penguin paperbacks. We wanted to emphasise the importance of mass market paperback publishing in the development of Mass Observation.
The Penguin Special Britain by Mass-Observation is featured in the exhibition. It was actually the second MO publication. The first was a report on May 12th 1937, the day of George VI’s coronation which was published by Faber and Faber. Mass Observation’s Worktown study of life in Bolton was partially funded by a third publishing imprint, Victor Gollancz’s Left Book Club. These new paperback publishers offered an alternative source of information and analysis to newspapers, which many people distrusted. New technologies meant that books could be swiftly printed and distributed in response to current events. The development of new media sources in the 1930s fed a change in society’s hierarchy with increasing literacy and leisure allowing the working classes to demand greater equality. As the adage goes… knowledge is power.
The exhibition is on until Sunday 2nd December at Bolton Museum.