Monday, February 28, 2011

The Blue Elephant Theatre, A Centenary Celebration

A mini-festival of plays, poetry and readings will show that Peake's imagination and inspiration extended far beyond Gormenghast. Below, a programme of events to be held at the theatre in Bethwin Road, Camberwell, London SE5 OXT
For information and reservations: 020 7701 0100

TUESDAY 26th April at 8pm - Noah's Ark

A rehearsed reading of Noah's Ark. Intended for children, Peake's remarkable prose makes his behind-the-scenes account of this well-known biblical story just as engaging for adult audiences. Originally broadcast on BBC radio, this charming play is long overdue for a theatrical staging.

WEDNESDAY 27th April at 8pm - Mr Loftus or And a Horse of Air

The dust in his room is ankle deep yet Mr Loftus still insists on being served tea and brandy by his butler. With an eccentric anti-hero whose manners are decidedly ungentlemanly, this previously unseen play is Peake's distinctive take on the comedy of manners. "Mad? Did you say mad? I have gone sane, That's much more difficult"

THURSDAY 28th April at 8pm - The Poems of Peake

An evening of Peake's poetry read, staged, and interpreted by a range of artists. With an introduction to his father's poetry by Fabian Peake, and a post-performance Q & A with Sebastian Peake

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vintage Classics Day at Foyles Bookshop, London

On Saturday 7th May Sebastian Peake will be speaking at The Gallery at Foyle's. The event will begin at 10.30 am and last an hour with questions and answers following the discussion. Viv Groskop of The Observer will chair the panel. Tickets are £18 with £15 concessions and £12 for those booking before 1st March.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Centenary Call for Items


The well-established Mervyn Peake collector, Michael Kemp, will be issuing a fascinating catalogue to celebrate the centenary, and it will be available this summer. The catalogue will include over 200 items, ranging from 1st editions to significant re-issues, and a selection of original art including drawings and paintings by Mervyn Peake.
email: or telephone 01795 663675.


Another established collector and bookseller, is Lesley Sklaroff, who usually has a wide range of mint-condition 1st editions, fascinating magazine articles, books, pamphlets and other Peake-related items at his treasure trove business on the Isle of Wight.
email: or
telephone 01983 754960

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Three new publications from Methuen

In June, Methuen will be publishing the first in a series of plays written by Mervyn Peake. The title of the first collection will be Mervyn Peake; Plays One. On the cover of the book will be one of the many illustrations produced to accompany The Wit to Woo, the play, begun in 1950, and given its first performance on 12th March 1957.

Conceived and written on the island of Sark, Letters From a Lost Uncle, a story for children but very much based on Mervyn Peake's love of adventures on the high seas, Methuen will also be reissuing the book in June. Originally published in 1948 by Eyre & Spottiswoode, the story tells the adventures of the Uncle who regularly writes home to his nephew in England. Beautifully illustrated, and written as though on a typewriter, many of the pages are apparently blood-stained from cuts to the writer's fingers.

Methuen are also reissuing their earlier edition of The Hunting of the Snark Lewis Carroll's classic with illustrations by Mervyn Peake. Published by Chatto & Windus in December 1941 the drawings had been developing in the illustrator's mind during the previous year or so while in the army.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Selected Short Stories and Poems by Mervyn Peake, read by Fabian Peake and Sebastian Peake

A double CD with sleeve note essay, photographs and a painting by Peake's widow, Maeve Gilmore, will be available in bookshops and other outlets from June 2011. The recordings, which were produced at the state-of-the-art studios at the British Library in London, will feature several hours of Mervyn Peake's stories and poems. An evening dedicated to these recordings will take place, in the late autumn, at King's Place in London, where the brothers will read both stories and poems in one of the concert halls at this new venue.

The Ancient Mariner at the British Library

As well as the Alice illustrations in the Treasures Gallery at the British Library, a new exhibition in the Folio Society Gallery features an enlarged illustration from The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. The exhibition, called simply The Ancient Mariner, is on the mezzanine floor at the British Library, and will be there for the next two months.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Faulks on Fiction at Waterstones

Following the success of the BBC television series, Faulks on Fiction, Waterstones have installed special bookcases at the front of their shops to display the novels in the series. Gormenghast features prominently amongst them.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Michael Moorcock in The Guardian

A double-page spread in today's Guardian, features Michael Moorcock on the arts page. As well as several photographs of the prolific writer, Mervyn Peake is also mentioned in the piece. Generosity is and always has been a hallmark of this loyal, lifelong fan of Titus Groan, Gormenghast and the wider Peake oeuvre.

Centenary events in Chichester

Full details are now available of Mervyn Peake: A Centenary Celebration exhibition, 9th April - 17th July 2011 at the Pallant House Gallery, Chichester.

There will be a talk by Sebastian Peake on 14th April, and a tour of the show by Professor Bill Gray at 11am on 30th June. At the nearby Otter Gallery, a separate Mervyn Peake exhibition will begin on 26th May, and run until 17th July. A Peake Centenary Conference will take place at Chichester University between 15 - 16th July.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Faulks on Fiction, BBC2 Saturday, 26th February 2011

'His face was pale like clay and save for his eyes, mask-like.'

In the forthcoming companion to the television series, Faulks on Fiction, the writer Sebastian Faulks heads his chapter on Steerpike, in the Villains section of the book, 'A Problem Case' . Quoting from Prunesquallor's rhetorical question to the anti-hero: The doctor asks Steerpike whether he is a 'problem case', or 'a clear-cut young gentleman with no ideas at all?' This unresolved dichotomy forms the basis of Faulks' enquiry into the very heart-beat of the character.

'While I take my Gormenghast neat', writes Faulks incisively, 'some readers have preferred to take it with a shot of Nuremberg', alluding to the fact that, certainly the novel Titus Groan, was both conceived and written during war time. Earlier in the two thousand word essay the writer gives a very eloquent assessment of why readers should never confuse Tolkein with Peake. 'Like a child's game, dolls and teddy bears take the place of people', he suggests about the former, 'but in the child's very real house and garden'. Peake's world however, is 'less predictable, less delineated; it is not such a comfortable place as Middle Earth'.

He's right, it's the real world. Or, as a well-known contemporary writer observed recently... 'Tolkein stands on a hill directing his forces from a distance, while Mervyn Peake is down there with his troops...'

The book is published by BBC Books.

The episode featuring Streerpike will be shown on BBC 2 Television on Saturday 26th February at 9 pm.