Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mervyn Peake's Vast Alchemies

Peter Winnington's attractive and extended paperback edition was published just in time to be available at the opening of the wonderful Lignes de Fuite exhibition at La Maison d'Ailleurs in Switzerland. Incorporating many previously unseen photographs, drawings and paintings, his latest book sustains and develops the themes of his original hardback, Vast Alchemies, first published by Peter Owen Publishers in 2000. In both publications a sympathetic erudition shines through the whole text, making this latest biography mandatory for anyone interested in the subject.

The Swiss exhibition has been greatly enhanced by the loan of a large number of 1st edition publications by Mervyn Peake, kindly made available by Peter, all set out in the beautifully designed display cabinets where they are placed in date order, beginning with a 1st edition Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor from 1939. As well as the wide range of books on display in various rooms, salient dates and information about the writer, illustrator and poet were provided by Peter, whose help and assistance was invaluable to the Swiss team when organising the show.


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