David Gentleman’s wood engraving for the New Penguin Shakespeare edition of The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Penguin Books commissioned the British artist David Gentleman (born 1930) to create wood engravings to illustrate the covers of many of Shakespeare’s plays. In all, thirty-one titles were issued in the New Penguin Shakespeare series between 1967 and 1977 with covers illustrated by Gentleman. In 2020, the Elizabethan Club acquired an original print, printed from the wood block, of the engraving that Gentleman created for The Two Gentleman of Verona, first published in this edition in 1968. The image was colorized when used as a cover illustration, but the Club’s print is black and white and demonstrates much more clearly Gentleman’s exceptional talent as a wood engraver. It felt a natural addition to the Club’s collection: not only a compelling artifact of the Bard’s twentieth-century publishing history, but also a handsome artwork by one of Britain’s finest modern graphic artists.