Mervyn Peake's Vast Alchemies: The Illustrated Biography

Front Cover
G. Peter Winnington
Peter Owen Publishers, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 314 pages
This biography of Mervyn Peake (1911-1968) explores the life and extraordinary imagination of one of Britain's most singular writers and artists. In the space of thirty years Peake produced more than two hundred and fifty poems, four novels (including the celebrated Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone), a novella and numerous short stories; he also wrote ten plays (several of them for radio). He illustrated two dozen books, including such classics as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Hunting of the Snark, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Bleak House and Treasure Island, and designed many book jackets; he painted innumerable portraits and others pictures and made thousands of drawings in a wide variety of media. He also taught hundreds of art students.

Peter Winnington follows Peake's life from his birth in China through his student years and a sojourn in an artists' colony on Sark, his marriage and his frustrating years as a soldier when he wished to be a war artist. Yet the 1940s, marked by a traumatic visit to newly liberated Belsen in 1945, were his most productive years. From the middle of the 1950s Parkinson's disease gradually prevented him from working and led to his premature death in 1968.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Dr Peake and Bessie Powell 18981911
Growing Up in Tientsin 19121922
Eltham College 19231929

19 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

G. Peter Winnington is the leading authority on Peake's life and work, in addition to editing Peake Studies he has published a study of the working of Peake's imagination, The Voice of the Heart (2006), and edited Mervyn Peake: The Man and His Art (also published by Peter Owen). He lives in Switzerland.

Bibliographic information