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Summary Article: Peake, Mervyn Laurence
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


English writer and artist

Born in south China, where his father was a missionary, he was educated at Tientsin Grammar School, Eltham College and the Royal Academy Schools. While living on Sark (1933-35) and thereafter teaching at the Westminster School of Art, his reputation as an artist grew. His first book was a children's story, Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor (1939), with his own illustrations. The Craft of the Lead Pencil (1946), a book on drawing, was published in the same year as his first novel, Titus Groan, the first part of a Gothic fantasy trilogy completed in Gormenghast (1950) and Titus Alone (1959). Another novel, Mr Pye, appeared in 1953, and his only play, The Wit to Woo, in 1957. He published two volumes of verse, Shapes and Sounds (1941) and The Glassblowers (1950), a ballad set during the blitz, and lighter sketches collected posthumously in A Book of Nonsense (1972). He illustrated several classics, notably Treasure Island, The Hunting of the Snark and The Ancient Mariner.

  • Batchelor, John W, Mervyn Peake: A Biographical and Critical Exploration (1979).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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