Introduction to Mervyn Peake


Mervyn Peake (1911-68). Draughtsman, illustrator, painter, novelist, poet, dramatist. And unique. He ought to be universally known, but is considerably less famous than he deserves. I therefore devote this section of the website to his works, in the hope that others will be encouraged to share my enthusiasm.

He is probably now best known for the Gormenghast trilogy of novels: Titus Groan, Gormenghast, Titus Alone. This unique vision is difficult to categorise – Gothic fantasy hardly does it justice – but once encountered is never forgotten. I can only say that if you haven’t read it, try it. It is conceivable that you won’t like it, which would be sad, but if you do you will have discovered a life-long pleasure, because there is so much else to discover in Peake’s work.

A key impetus for setting up this section was an e-mail from Alexander Gaya, who sent me an article he had written on three early Peake pieces. This reminded me that I had published an article on Titus Alone for the Mervyn Peake Review in 1999. Revisiting it, I found that article to be as much a manifesto about the art of writing as purely a critical essay on Titus Alone, and it therefore forms the centrepiece of this section.

For further details and current news, see the Mervyn Peake website at This used to be run by Sebastian Peake, Mervyn’s eldest son, and although he is still named in the site’s heading he died in 2012. The site now appears to be managed by Alison Eldred, co-author (with Sebastian) of Mervyn Peake: the man and his art.

For Alexander Gaya’s article, Impossible Creatures in a Godless World: Animals and Religion in the Early Writings (1929-1939) of Mervyn Peake, please contact Alexander directly at