New look for Pelican Shakespeare series

The first four titles in a new series of editions of Shakespeare’s plays are published by Penguin Random House in the US this week – each one featuring a front and back cover illustration by Manuja Waldia

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The Indianapolis-based illustrator and graphic designer was commissioned by Penguin creative director Paul Buckley to create 40 pieces of work for the new-look Pelican Shakespeare series.

The first four paperback editions – of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and King Lear – are published in the US this week, with further titles expected to appear in July. This year is the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.

For each volume, Waldia’s detailed work picks out the theme of the play and intertwines symbolic elements from the plot into a single illustration. Based on the few images of the series that have been released so far, Shakespeare’s tragedies appear to feature a black background, while comedies make use of white.

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According to the publishers, each of the texts have been updated by general editors Stephen Orgel and AR Braunmuller and “incorporate over thirty years of Shakespeare scholarship undertaken since the original series, edited by Alfred Harbage, appeared between 1956 and 1967”.

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More of Manuja’s work is at manujawaldia.com, while further details on the Pelican Shakespeare series can be found at penguinrandomhouse.com.