Laurence Peake (1911 – 1968)
Mervyn is probably best remembered due to his Gormenghast books,
occasionally compared to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, despite
his influences being taken from Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Mervyn Peake was born in Kuling, China to British Parents, and
the Chinese influence crept into his later creative pursuits.
In 1923, the family returned to England and his education continued
at Eltham College, Mottingham, later studying arts at the Croydon
School of Arts, and at the Royal Academy Schools where he learnt
to paint in oils.
Most of the 1930’s was spent as a painter in London, however
for a couple of years, he lived on the Channel Island of Sark,
after his former teacher set up an artists’ colony there.
During World War II, Mervyn's application to become a war artist
was turned down, and instead he was conscripted into the army
where he served both with the Royal Artillery and the Royal
Engineers. Following his repeated requests, and subsequent denials,
to become a war artist, Peake suffered a nervous breakdown,
after which the Ministry of Information took him on as a graphic
In the 1950’s his health began to deteriorate, with the
onset of Parkinson’s Disease, for which he received electro-shock
Mervyn Peake's Paintings
Three Children by a
DVD of Gormenghast
Gormenghast is an ancient city-state which primarily
consists of a rambling and crumbling castle.
The narrative, based on the first two of the
three Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake, begins
with the birth of a son, Titus, to the 76th
Earl, Sepulchrave Groan, and Countess Gertrude.
This mismatched pair (he'd prefer the melancholy
privacy of his library; she'd prefer the company
of her menagerie of cats and birds) also have
a teenaged daughter, Fuchsia, who resents her
new brother but comes to love him dearly. Simultaneously,
a young kitchen apprentice, Steerpike, takes
advantage of an altercation between head cook
Swelter and the Earl's manservant, Mr. Flay,
and escapes from the kitchens...
Purchase the book
The Gormenghast Novels
by Mervyn Peake (Author)
Mervyn Peake's gothic masterpiece, the Gormenghast trilogy,
begins with the superlative Titus Groan, a darkly humorous,
stunningly complex tale of the first two years in the
life of the heir to an ancient, rambling castle. The
trilogy continues with the novels Gormenghast and Titus
Alone, and all three books are bound together in this
The Gormenghast royal family, the castle's decidedly
eccentric staff, and the peasant artisans living around
the dreary, crumbling structure make up the cast of
characters in these engrossing stories. Peake's command
of language and unique style set the tone and shape
of an intricate, slow-moving world of ritual and stasis...
Nash] [Augustus John]
[Austin Spare] [Bruce
Bairnsfarther] [Alfred Lee]
[David Bomberg] [Eric
Raven-Hill] [Frank Brangwyn]
[John Lavery] [Francis
Dodd] [Stanley Spencer]
[Mervyn Peake] [Muirhead
Bone] [Cyril-Bird] [William
Roberts] [William Orpen]
[Mark Gertler] [Philip
Steer] [John Hassall]