PEAKE, Mervyn

(1911 - 1968)
“Each day I live in a glass room unless I break it with the thrusting of my senses and pass through the splintered walls to the great landscape.”

Born in the hill town of Kuling, Kiang-Hsi Province, China in 1911, Mervyn Peake experienced the same sense of displacement as Kipling and other children of the Empire, and this feeling of alienation combines with his genius for invention in his writing.  When he was 12 he moved back to England, and by 1929 he had enrolled in the Royal Academy of Art, moving to join an artist’s commune in Sark in 1933.  It was whilst he was in Sark that he was inspired to write his first book, Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor, notable for its poetic style and Peake’s trademark fine line drawings.   At the outbreak of WWII he joined the Royal Artillery but concentrated on his writing and art, starting work on Titus Groan and publishing Ride a Cock-Horse and other Nursery Rhymes.  He applied to become a war artist but was turned down, a refusal which led to a nervous breakdown and subsequent invaliding out of the army.  Notwithstanding this setback, in 1945 he travelled through war-torn Europe documenting the victims of war through his art and poetry, even travelling to Bergen-Belsen and drawing what he saw there.  The horrors he witnessed undoubtedly had a profound impact on his imagination, contributing to the often surreal horrors in the books often known as the Gormenghast trilogy.    In 1946 Graham Greene read the manuscript of Titus Groan and earnestly recommended that Eyre and Spottiswood publish it, which they immediately agreed to do. The next 10 years was spent writing, including the award winning The Glassblowers, and Mr Pye, and illustrating classic literature such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Grimm’s Tales, Treasure Island and Bleak House

From the mid 1950s onwards Peake’s health began to fail, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was dead barely 9 years after the publication of Titus Alone, aged only 57.  A man of extraordinary imagination and vision, his work is still an inspiration to many today.

Please scroll down to see our current stock of Mervyn Peake first editions, signed copies and original drawings. 

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 Mervyn PEAKE

Books by this author

The Pot of Gold

JUDAH, Aaron
PEAKE, Mervyn


Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor

PEAKE, Mervyn