PEAKE, Mervyn

Mervyn  Peake   British 1911 –1968

Mervyn Peake, illustrator, artist , poet and writer. Born in China, he came to England and attended Eltham College in Mottingham, south east London in 1923-1929, later studying art at Croydon School of Art  and at the Royal Academy. Peake first made his reputation as a painter and illustrator during the 1930s and 1940s, when he lived in London, and he was commissioned to produce portraits of well-known people. For a short time at the end of World War ll, he was commissioned by various newspapers to depict war scenes.

By the 1938 he used his writing skills and he had his first books published, Captain Slaughterhouse, which he also illustrated. First editions are rare as the warehouse where they were stored was bombed in the Second World War.  However, he is best known for what are usually referred to as the Gormenghast  books. The three works were part of what Peake conceived as a lengthy cycle, the completion of which was prevented by his death. They are sometimes compared to the work of his older contemporary J.R.R.Tolkien but his surreal fiction was influenced by his early love for Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson.

His works are now included in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, Imperial War Museum and The National Archives.

In 2008,The Times named Peake among their list of “The 50 greatest British Writers since 1945”

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