Friday, July 29, 2011

Interview for the Vintage Podcast

At a filmed interview with my brother and sister in mid-July, our thoughts and feelings towards the centenary and the wonderful new Vintage publications including a re-jacketed Mr Pye, my mother's own Titus Awakes and the current best-seller The Illustrated Gormenghast, were discussed.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Hitler Portfolio

Maev Kennedy visited the National Archive at Kew recently when the Hitler drawings were put on display and Sebastian Peake gave a talk about his father's work. Inspired by what she saw and heard, she has now written a piece for today's Guardian, 23rd July 2011, and this is an extract from it. A selection of the drawings is now on display at Kew.

Alison Eldred

More praise for The History of Titus Groan

Tim Crook writes in his blog, Libertarianspirit.

Also, in this week's Radio Times, Jane Anderson writes 'Everything about this production - writing, direction, sound effects and casting - is absolutely spot on. It has done Mervyn Peake and his family proud, and shows that when radio drama is really good it can knock TV and film out of their financially-privileged comfort zone.' Her piece is illustrated by the above illustration by Kevin Hauff, commissioned by Radio Times.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Three reviews and an exhibition

John Gray has written the above piece in the New Statesman. Click on the image to read the full article which gives a very sensitive overview of Mervyn Peake's work and also Titus Awakes by Maeve Gilmore.

And today Brian Sibley has written a blog to describe the event which took place at Chris Beetles' gallery in London last night.

Jon Michaud has written in the New Yorker blog.

The next event will be the talk at the British Library, to be held on Tuesday 26th July.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The British Library event

Jackie of Farm Lane Books has written about the exhibition of Mervyn Peake work at the British Library.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Peake Centenary Conference Weekend

As Peake fans make their way to Chichester today to discuss many aspects of his work and digest the marvellous collection of new publications, there is a poignant trio of announcements today.

Firstly a very favourable review of Brian Sibley's BBC radio adaptation of Gormenghast (The History of Titus Groan) in The Independent. This was also discussed at the British Library on Monday evening when writers and actors gathered to present Peake's work in general to a packed house.

Secondly an enthusiastic blog posting from Quote Unquote about much of the centenary activity, and in particular quoting Fergus Fleming's comments in Literary Review. There have been so many mentions of Peake in blogs from all over the world and it seems that he is reaching a new audience which appreciates his work more and more. Thank you to Quote Unquote, whoever you are, and to all those people who are writing blogs.

Thirdly though, and perhaps best of all, is the news that Eric Popplewell is being recognised for his digital work and has won the Mervyn Peake Award for the competition open to anyone with Parkinson's. That Peake should have continued with his work when he was suffering with undiagnosed Parkinson's is well known but of course there are many people doing the same today, perhaps with better treatment, but with an equal amount of courage.

More details on the conference here. There are still places available as well as tickets for the evening performances.

Monday, July 11, 2011

An exhibition at the Chris Beetles Gallery

A Centenary Celebration of his Art

An exhibition of 80 original artworks by Mervyn Peake with 45 new works from the Peake family archive

The exhibition is viewable online NOW at

The exhibition runs from Monday 18 July until Saturday 13 August 2011, Monday to Saturday 10.00am-5.30pm, at 8 & 10 Ryder Street, St James's, London SW1Y 6QB

Join us for a special champagne private view to celebrate a centenary of the art of Mervyn Peake on Monday 18 July 2011, 6-8pm.

Sebastian Peake and Chris Beetles will introduce Jane Asher, Nick Grace and Natalie Walter, who will read a selection of Mervyn Peake’s enchanting and imaginative poetry at 7pm.

Chris Beetles will sponsor the event with a donation of £2000 to PARKINSON’S UK.

Chris Beetles Ltd, 8 & 10 Ryder Street, St James's, London, SW1Y 6QB
0207 839 7551.

Centenary Weekend

The exhibition of Mervyn Peake and Maeve Gilmore's work at The Last Tuesday Society/ Victor Wynd gallery in Hackney on Saturday afternoon was a huge success. Some of the paintings and drawings had not been seen for many years and it was fascinating to see the work of both artists hung side by side. Many people visited the exhibition, Sebastian entertained us with a speech and the party went on into the evening.

The first part of the new six-part radio adaptation by Brian Sibley, The History of Titus Groan, was broadcast on Sunday afternoon. It is an excellent cast, and Brian has used the device of Titus as narrator which is a poignant way of introducing each of the characters as it alludes to Maeve Gilmore's Titus Awakes conclusion to the Gormenghast books. More here, on Jeremy Mortimer's blog.

Reviews have been building up for the Illustrated Gormenghast, Titus Awakes and Clare Peake's Under a Canvas Sky.

Fergus Fleming in the Literary Review.

The Guardian has a collection of blogs (see above). Join the debate online.

David Blackburn writes in The Spectator.

The Irish Times.

Steve King in the Barnes and Noble Review.

A Sark-related comment by Matthew Bell in The Independent.

Under a Canvas Sky
in Zaman.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Mervyn Peake, 1911-1968

The culmination of a plethora of ideas many of which came to fruition while others not, today, 9th July 2011, celebrates my father's birth, on a mountainside in Kuling, South Central China, one hundred years ago.

Exhibitions, radio broadcasts, television programmes, an international conference, domestic and foreign editions of his novels, children's stories and magazine and newspaper articles, all the above have happened this year. Without the help of the dedicated and determined, unflinching and assiduous support of Alison Eldred, much of the above might not have happened. Together, we have promoted the work of a man whose centenary we celebrate today. So let's raise our metaphorical glasses and shout, long live Titus, long live art, and long live Mervyn Peake!

Sebastian Peake

The History of Titus Groan

As this interview with Jeremy Mortimer suggests in his BBC blog, Brian Sibley is "a bit of a legend in radio". How fortunate for Mervyn Peake then, that Brian has had a long association with Gormenghast and that he was commissioned by the BBC to write a new radio adaptation of Gormenghast and Titus Awakes to celebrate the centenary of Peake's birth.

Brian was a friend of Maeve Gilmore's and would visit her at the time of writing Titus Awakes to discuss its progress. He was therefore also the ideal person to write the introduction to her book, which is being published today. This also informed his choice as to how to write (for a second time) a radio serial of the Titus books as this one combines Peake's work with his wife's.

It will be fascinating to hear how he does that when the first part is broadcast tomorrow (Sunday 10th July) at 3.00 pm on Radio 4. (To be repeated on the following Saturdays).

Brian is delighted with the production. The cast includes some well-known faces as well as some dynamic young people who Brian feels will soon join them at the top of their profession. The photographs above are by Islay Bell-Webb.

There is more about the production on Brian's own blog.

And a Facebook 'event' page for the series here.

Alison Eldred

Three Centenary Exhibitions

Mervyn Peake was born 100 years ago today in China. Among the many centenary events there have been three exhibitions this week, each showing a remarkably different aspect of his work.

The exhibition at the British Library celebrates the acquisition of the Gormenghast and poetry manuscripts, the originals for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and a great deal of correspondence and other relevant documents and photographs. Beautifully displayed in the Folio Society Gallery, here you can also see photographs taken by Peake's father when he arrived in China, poetry both harrowing and amusing, and a presentation of Peake's playful work on a "line". It's marvellous to see his work in this most august of settings and to witness the wholehearted enthusiasm of the British Library for Peake's work. The photograph shows Sebastian Peake, Jon Fawcett (British Library Exhbitions Organiser) and Brian Sibley standing in front of the Alice display.

The National Archives at Kew brought out from their collection eighteen of the twenty-five extraordinary 'Hitler drawings'. Sebastian Peake gave a talk about his father's life to members of the Friends of the National Archive and all present were fascinated by both the talk and the work on show. Conceived in 1941, they show a suggested portfolio of work as if produced by Hitler himself. Prophetic in the extreme, the titles such as Family Group, Landscape with Figures and Still Life on a Table take on a hideous new perspective which, of course, materialised in reality by 1945.

This afternoon, an exhibition of original paintings and drawings by both Mervyn Peake and Maeve Gilmore opens at the Victor Wynd Gallery in Hackney. Primarily Maeve Gilmore's work, it will be a chance for people to see, for the first time in many years, the work of this talented artist whose loyalty and hard work sustained her husband in so many different ways. Also to celebrate the publication of her own book, Titus Awakes, a very personal account of her own view of Titus's homecoming.

Alison Eldred

Thursday, July 07, 2011

More on the Mervyn Peake Conference

The University of Chichester Department of English and Creative Writing in conjunction with the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy present a weekend of events on the 15th, 16th and 17th July 2011.

A conference will run for the entire weekend and keynote speakers include; Peter Winnington, Joanne Harris, Sebastian Peake, Colin Manlove, Farah Mendlesohn and Brian Sibley.

If you cannot attend for the entire weekend then you can come for individual public events. Speakers will be:

Joanne Harris - The Inspirational Mervyn Peake
Katherine Langrish - Exchanging Certainty for Uncertainty: Mervyn Peake Explores the Realms of Children's Fiction
Brian Sibley - Titus Aloud
A play written by Tim Franklin, directed by Kim Pearce titled ‘Boy In Darkness’

If you would like to attend for either the conference or any of the public events, please contact Jane Caroll on 01243 816479 or

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Interview in the Radio Times

From the latest Radio Times, 5th July 2011.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Guardian and the Telegraph, 2nd July 2011

"For decades, Mervyn Peake, creator of Gormenghast, was a neglected and marginalised 'gothic' writer. Today he's recognised as a novelist and artist of brilliance, and the centenary of his birth is being marked by an exhibition and several new editions. Four writers with a connection to the author celebrate his achievements."

So begins the coverage in today's Review section of The Guardian. My apologies to anyone who bought the paper on 1st July and found nothing on Peake - but today's edition has four beautifully written pieces by Michael Moorcock, Hilary Spurling, China Mieville and AL Kennedy. Just the kind of coverage Peake deserves.

More coverage in The Daily Telegraph here. Philip Womack interviews Sebastian, Fabian and Clare Peake.

Interview with Nick Briggs on Radio 4 Extra

The Worlds of Mervyn Peake, the exhibition which opens at the British Library on 7th July 2011, will be discussed on Radio 4 Extra, (previously Radio 7) at 6.25pm on Wednesday 13th July. Sebastian Peake is interviewed by the winner of the Critic's Choice Award for London exhibitions in the current Time Out, and the voice of the Daleks, Nick Briggs.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Mervyn Peake on Radio 3

On Friday 8th July at 10.00 pm Ian Macmillan will be discussing the work of Mervyn Peake with Joanne Harris. The programme is The Verb, on Radio 3.