Thursday, 24 March 2011


As an admirer of Mervyn Peake since I first became a keen reader, I am delighted that his centennial birth year is being marked by a number of exciting publishing projects. The very useful page run by Sebastian Peake - one of the sons of the author - is a good place to view these books, as well as offering news of exhibitions and related events and products.

The most fascinating for me is the fourth Gormenghast book, which was begun by Peake during his terminal illness and then completed by his late wife. Recently rediscovered, it is being published as Titus Awakes. I've read the trilogy numerous times, and enjoyed the BBC adaptation (while remaining mystified that no-one has been inspired to make a feature film from the books) and will count the days until July comes and I can see in what directions - literally and metaphysically - this unusual collaboration took the character of Titus Groan.

Peake was a remarkable figure, creating work not only in many different literary genres (poetry, prose, children's books, plays) but also being a superb illustrator and accomplished artist. If I had to choose one piece to illustrate his unique approach and talents, it would be the remarkable, long narrative World War II poem The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb. I hope this commemoration and associated activity bring him to the attention of many more people.


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