It is with barely concealed delight that I can announce that for the very first time the collected poems of my late father will be published in 2008, the 40th anniversary of his death. Carcanet Press, the country's leading poetry publisher, will be bringing out a volume which will include over 80 unpublished works, and the collection will be copiously illustrated.
In all over 230 poems will appear thus making this one of the most significant Peake publications of recent years. The editor, Rob Maslen, who has done a quite magnificent job, has worked closely with Peter Winnington, editor of Peake Studies and undisputed doyen on the subject of Mervyn Peake, to produce what I'm sure will be a landmark in the history of love, war, contemplative and philosophical poetry.
The formal title of this edition is Mervyn Peake, Collected Poems, ed. R. W. Maslen
and this is how the book is announced by Carcanet Press:
"This is the first comprehensive edition of the poetry of Mervyn Peake, author of the Gormenghast books and one of the most celebrated illustrators of the 20th century. All his poetry is collected in this volume, with the exception of the nonsense rhymes and one early narrative poem. In addition, every black-and-white illustration he
made for his verse is included here, along with many other pictures, some of which have never before been published. Of the more than 230 poems – all reproduced from authoritative sources – over eighty are printed for the first time.
"Published to mark the 40th anniversary of Peake’s death, this edition finally enables his stature as a writer of verse to be properly assessed. He emerges as a major poet of the mid-20th century, whose achievement was recognized in 1950 by the award of the Heinemann prize for his collection The Glassblowers
. Like his hero William Blake, Peake possessed an acute sense of his responsibilities as a visual and verbal artist, and was passionately engaged with the events of his time: from unemployment in pre-war Britain to the horrors of the London Blitz and of the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, which he visited in 1945. He was a fine love-poet as well as a sensitive observer of the human form in action and at rest. His poetry helps to anchor the fantasy world of Gormenghast
in the world of the turbulent 1930s and 40s, and will bring those decades to vivid new life in the imaginations of 21st-century readers."