Friday, May 25, 2007

Gormenghast at the Edinburgh Festival

A very different interpretation from the David Glass Ensemble's adaptation of Gormenghast will be staged at the Edinburgh Festival during August by an all-female cast who will play the various roles. The staging, costumes even the atmosphere is likely to have quite a novel flavour given the fact that all the principal characters will be played by young women. We wish every success to this brave adventure which hopefully will be both well received and well reviewed. Visit their website for more information.

The production will run from 13th to 18th August at Understairs @Apostolic, 2 Davie Street, Edinburgh EH8 9EB at 18.15 hours. Visit their website for more information and photos.

Tickets can be bought from or

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tom Pocock

Tom Pocock, the writer and journalist who died on 14th May, was the companion with whom Mervyn Peake travelled to Germany in June 1945. Commissioned by The Leader magazine, the two wrote and drew of their experiences and later became good friends. Having been to the camp the day before, Pocock dropped Mervyn at the perimeter fence of the newly liberated Bergen-Belsen concentration horror, telling his fellow recorder that he did 'not wish to experience it again' leaving a bemused Mervyn to face the dreadful music.This is one of the drawings produced on that day.

Captain Slaughterboard

Bloomsbury Publishing plc have just sold a copy of the very rare 1st edition of Mervyn Peake's Captain Slaughterboard which was first published in 1939. The remarkable figure of £1600 was achieved for this copy from the first edition most of which went up in flames in a fire at the warehouse where they were being stored.
Remarkably this book now in print again. Walker Books have added colour and produced a beautiful new edition.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Originals for sale

A work by Mervyn Peake submitted for sale by a private owner was sold at a London auction house last week, reaching five times its initial reserve. This must have pleased the vendor but surely would have delighted its creator.

An early drawing by Mervyn Peake c1936 is being auctioned by Bonhams of Knightsbridge on 22nd May. Creature with Walking Stick shows a Moccus Book bird-like animal side on while a second creature strides towards the viewer. Signed Mervyn L Peake, this shows, if only in the actual signature, that the influence of Stanley L Wood, an early hero from his China days, still continues to resonate while the drawing itself displays all the hallmarks of the incipient crosshatching later to be developed in so much of his illustrative work.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Previous talks

I give regular talks on my father’s life and work. These are some of the previous venues.

Jersey Arts Festival
The Amsterdam Literature Festival
Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival
Bath Literature Festival
Kent Literature Festival (Talk)
Cheltenham Literature Festival (Talk)
Ways with Words Literature Festival (Talk)
Charleston Manor Literature Festival (Talk)
North Somerset Festival of Literature
Weston Super Mare Museum (Talk & Compere)
Cardiff Literature Festival (Talk)
National Book League (Talk)
M.A.D. Writers Guild The Life and Work of Mervyn Peake
Edinburgh International Book Festival
Aye Write! - The Glasgow Book Festival
Country Bookshop, Hassop, Derbyshire
Graham Greene Festival, Berkhamsted
Burpham Country House Hotel, Sussex
Dylan Thomas Festival, Swansea
The Oxford Festival of Literature
The Stratford-upon-Avon Festival of Literature
Lincoln Book Festival
Ledbury Poetry Festival
Small Wonder The Short Story Festival, Charleston, West Sussex
Poetry-next-the-Sea, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
Aye Write Poetry Festival, Glasgow
Worcestershire Literary Festival, Worcester
Guernsey Literature Festival, St Peter Port
Ways With Words, Dartington, Devon
Bridport Literary Festival, Dorset

Royal Festival Hall Exhibition (Opened)
5 Centuries of Artists in Sutton (Opened)
National Portrait Gallery
Pompidou Centre Paris Exhibition (Talk)
The Major Retrospective Exhibition of the work of Mervyn Peake Guernsey (Opened & Talk)
British Council Warsaw (Talk)
The Life & Work of Mervyn Peake
Exhibition Littlehampton (Opened & Talk)
Rye Festival Exhibition (Opened & Talk) The Life & Work of Mervyn Peake
Dove Cottage Grasmere Exhibition of Illustrations by MP of The Ancient Mariner
Battersea Art Centre, 'A Reverie of Peake' (Talk)
Camberwell Arts Week, The Life and Work of Mervyn Peake (Talk)
Chris Beetles Gallery (Talk and opening of the Mervyn Peake exhibition), October 2006
Introduction to The Late Drawings exhibition at the Chris Beetles Gallery, December 2008
Maison d'Ailleurs, Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland, October 2009
Biblioteque de Rennes Metropole, Brittany, France
The National Archive, Kew

The Bodleian (Sheldonian Theatre) Oxford
Westminster Library
Chelsea Library
Kensington Library
The New Peckham Library
Sutton Library
Dulwich Library
The British Library, London

The Sohemain Society, The Wheatsheaf, Rathbone Place, Soho W1

Art & Design faculty of Portsmouth University
University of California at Los Angeles UCLA, English Faculty
Cracow University English Departmant
Poznan University English Department
UCL The Slade School of Fine Art
Corpus Christi College Cambridge (Talk)
Eltham College Opening of the Mervyn Peake Library (Talk)
Trinity College of Arts and Performance, Carmarthen
New York University, Paris
Loughborough University Arts Department
Harris Manchester College, Oxford
Warwick University - Capital Centre Theatre
Bristol University - Clifton Hill House campus
Chichester, Sussex
Eltham College, Kent
Gresham College, LONDON EC1
Camberwell College of Arts - Poet in the City

Lewis Carroll Society
Purcell Room Royal Festival Hall
National Portrait Gallery
Tetric Bookshops
Blackwells Oxford
Bowes & Bowes Cambridge
Waterstones Oxford
Waterstones Tunbridge Wells
Waterstones Chelsea
Waterstones Kensington
Waterstones Manchester
Waterstones Islington
Waterstones Piccadilly
Ottakars Newport IOW
Ottakars Bromley
Ottakars Clapham Junction
Ottakars main bookshop
Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road
Slightly Foxed, Gloucester Road, London
Wolfson and Tay, Bermondsey Square, London

The Making of a Masterpiece BBC4
The Making of Mr Pye
Channel Television Interviews
Bookmark BBC 2 Mervyn Peake
BBC South West Television, On Sark, with Inside Out

Radio Oxford
BBC Radio 4 Round Midnight
P.E.N International
Radio Kent
Radio Wales
LBC Book Programme
Radio Wiltshire
Radio Lincolnshire
Radio Guernsey
Brian Morton Show
Keep the Memory Green Humphrey Carpenter
Brian Matthews Show
Radio Solent
Radio Swindon 105.5

V & A London
The Wordsworth Trust, Dove Cottage (The Bindman Talks)
Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery, St Peter Port

The Manchester City Art Gallery
Bristol City Art Gallery
Quay Arts Centre, Newport, IoW
Pallant House, Chichester
The Chris Beetles Gallery, London
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle
The Laing Gallery, Newcastle

Congress Theatre, Eastbourne
Herne Hill Society, London SE24
The Astor Theatre, Deal
King's Place, London

PARKINSON'S UK (Talks at Branches)
Bromley, Kent
Central London
Fakenham, Norfolk
Darlington, Durham
Medway, Kent
Newbury, Berkshire
Luton, Bedfordshire
Croydon, Surrey
Dartford, Kent
Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire
Thatcham, Berkshire
Carlisle, Cumbria
Southport, Merseyside
Harrow, Middlesex
Watford, West Hertfordshire
Sevenoaks, Kent
Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex
Northampton, Northants
Plymouth, Devon
The Eden Project, St Austell, Cornwall
Ruislip & Hillingdon, Middlesex
Bedford, Bedfordshire
Lewisham, London
Hanwell, West London
Portsmouth, Hampshire
Bickley, Kent

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Dylan Thomas Festival

The Dylan Thomas Festival - Exact date to be confirmed though one of the two weekends between 27th October - 9th November. Further details from the organiser 0n 01792 463980

The Welsh poet often visited my parents when they lived at Glebe Place, Chelsea and would sometimes ask to borrow my father's brown corduroy suits which he took a liking to despite the difference in both height and physique between the two men. As a quid pro quo Dylan Thomas would sometimes baby-sit while my parents went out for the evening and would also take me to my nursery school at the end of the same street while telling me stories in his wonderful Welsh voice.

Peake Studies

With 2008 marking the 40th anniversary of the death in November 1968 of Mervyn Peake, and the 20th since the publication of the first issue of Peake Studies in November 1988, it will be a year both for remembering the life of the artist, writer, illustrator and poet and for celebrating the fact that for twenty uninterrupted years the journal has continued to be published.

Over the years the editor's exceptional sleuthing has resulted in unearthing numerous works by Mervyn Peake, such that many of the images published in Peake Studies have until then been largely unknown, even to the subject's closest family and professional experts of his art.

Apart from the visual treats, which appear without fail in each issue, articles both academic, erudite and amusing, illuminating, questioning and thorough, continue to be a feature of this, the best publication on the subject. I would therefore, without hestitation, recommend it
to anyone who would like to know more, and to anyone with a real interest in the life, work, and singular vision of the late Mervyn Peake.

Stratford Festival of Literature

Laurence Olivier, an actor frequently seen appearing at Stratford, was a great admirer of my father's play The Wit to Woo and had intended to produce the play which would have included in the cast, his then wife, Vivien Leigh. In the event other well known actors at the time were to play the characters from this humouresque piece of theatre.

The organisers of the Stratford-on-Avon Literary Festival have asked me to speak at their festival on Saturday, 29th September this year, with the exact time of the talk yet to be confirmed.

Apart from the biographical details of my father's life and work I will be displaying on screen for the first time previously unseen drawings of various characters and animals from some of the plays written by my father.

Further details from the organiser or from the festival website.

The Graham Greene Festival

I have also been asked to give a talk on my father's life at the Graham Greene Literary Festival. This will be at 11.30 on 28th September 2007 in Berkhamsted.

This is the front cover of the first edition of Titus Groan. In 1946 Graham Greene, who at the time was the editor at Eyre and Spottiswoode, gave the go-ahead for its publication.

Jersey Arts Festival

I have now been asked to speak at the Jersey Arts Festival, at 8pm on 20th June, at the Jersey Arts Centre, Phillips Street, St Helier. Telephone number for further details 01534 700444.

During the years that the Peake family lived on Sark frequent visits were made to Guernsey. Here I attended the Les Vauxblets Christian Brothers boarding school.

The main town, St Peter Port, provided both a big city feel after the constrictions of Sark, a tiny island seven miles away, and a welcome change. Here also my father once bought a palm tree though he was taken aback by the question posed by the vendor in the shop when asked what type he wanted to order, there being many he was informed. Moore's Hotel in the town also provided us with the occasional bath with hot water and large towels for which my father was always very grateful though never a guest of the hotel. As a boy I also enjoyed the baths we shared after the frugality of life on Sark and loved sailing between the islands on the converted motor torpedo boats converted for passenger use. We never visited Jersey despite the short distance from Sark.