Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake
Titus Awakes
Mervyn Peake

Mervyn Peake’s epic Gormenghast fantasy trilogy is a trilogy no more. Rumors of a fourth novel circulated for years but were always just rumors.  In January 2010 the granddaughter of Peake’s widow found a complete manuscript that her mother, Maeve Gilmore, had written in the 1970s based on notes Mervyn Peake had written before dying at the age of 57 from Parkinson's Disease.  The results of Gilmore’s labor have since been edited and will now appear, just in time for the centenary of the author’s birth, as Titus Awakes.

Peake (1911-1968) was a writer, artist, illustrator and poet. He achieved little popular success during his life although he counted Dylan Thomas and Graham Greene amongst his fans.  Peake’s magnum opus is the Gormenghast series. He intended for the series to be a lengthy fantasy cycle focused on an isolated kingdom that surrounded the mammoth castle on top of Gormenghast Mountain.  However his early death meant he only had time to complete the first three novels (Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone) and also a novella called Boy in Darkness.

Part of the appeal of the Gormenghast series is that it is very different when compared to other early fantasy series. Unlike his peers, Peake included no magic or non-human races in his writing, nor did he ever make it clear that Gormenghast was located on Earth or any other world, leaving both options open to interpretation. 

Additionally the series reveals the social structure of Gormenghast Castle as a whole rather than concentrating on a single protagonist.  The first two novels take place almost entirely within the walls of this massive structure that some citizens never seem to leave.  The third novel, Titus Alone, does break from this pattern and follows the more typical plot having the Earl of Gormenghast travel to a land far from his home.  The Earl finds a futuristic world of advanced technology – Peake seems to have written a Steampunk novel long before the Steampunk genre was invented. 

In addition to his Gormenghast legacy, Peake also wrote poetry and other stories, and was an accomplished illustrator having brought to life the stories of Lewis Carroll (Hunting of the Snark, Alice in Wonderland), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (Rime of the Ancient Mariner) and Robert Louis Stevenson (Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

Mervyn Peake's Books

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
Titus Groan
by Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast
by Mervyn Peake
Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
Titus Alone
by Mervyn Peake
Boy in Darkness by Mervyn Peake
Boy in Darkness
by Mervyn Peake
Mr. Pye by Mervyn Peake
Mr. Pye
by Mervyn Peake
A Book of Nonsense by Mervyn Peake
A Book of Nonsense
by Mervyn Peake
Letters from a Lost Uncle by Mervyn Peake
Letters from a Lost Uncle
by Mervyn Peake

A Selection of Peake's Artwork

Figures of Speech by Mervyn Peake
Figures of Speech
by Mervyn Peake
The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll
The Hunting of the Snark
by Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Household Tales by Brothers Grimm
Household Tales
by Brothers Grimm
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Droll Stories by Honore de Balzac
Droll Stories
by Honore de Balzac

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