Peake's progress: Selected writings and drawings of Mervyn Peake

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9780140046298: Peake's progress: Selected writings and drawings of Mervyn Peake

A selection of short stories and poems taken from this collection of Mervyn Peake's lesser-known work, including the epic poem Rhyme of the Flying Bomb. This collection is read by Mervyn's sons Sebastian and Fabian. Preface to the book (by Sebastian): Ten years after my father's premature death in November 1968, my mother's own selection of some of his writings was published, as Peake's Progress. The first complete story my father wrote, The White Chief of the Umzimbooboo Kaffirs was begun in China, where he was born in 1911, and completed at the age of eleven in England, where he had been sent to boarding school. This early story in the collection, tells of Hugh, a thinly disguised Jim from Treasure Island, whose parents, called Silver, unambiguously confirms the powerful influence Robert Louis Stevenson's masterpiece had on my impressionable father. My grandfather had given him the novel to read at a young age, and such was its impact that most of the story was committed to memory. So absorbed had my father been in this world of pirates, adventure and hidden treasure he would continue to be inspired by this primal literary experience throughout the rest of his professional life. At the age of eighteen, danger on the high seas was further evoked in his A Touch o' the Ash, the narrative confirming his infatuation with high maritime drama. On the advice of his former English teacher, my father left the Royal Academy Schools where he was studying fine art, at the age of twenty-two, moving to Sark in the Channel Islands where he lived for two years, and wrote Mr Slaughterboard. Six years later, and by now commissioned, having metamorphosed into Captain Slaughterboard, my father's sabre-waving villainous anti-hero, longs for an end to piracy and murder, finally reaching his own treasure island, after years of sailing the seven seas. First published by Country Life in 1939 and still in print today, the story is perhaps the high water mark of my father's early life, even though by then he was already halfway through his short span on earth. Stories both short and long fill the pages of the collection, with the nascent Lord Groan making a first appearance in The House of Darkstones, written between 1938 and 1940, with other ideas from personal experiences evolving in the late 1940s into Five Short Stories. Concurrent with regular calls for his work as an illustrator, poetry, inspired by love and war, family and country, germinated and was published. Illustrations and drawings, both preliminary and finished, accompany the text, while Peake s Progress displays in abundance his perceptive eye in the numerous line drawings. With humour, nonsense, whimsy, and the gentlest mocking of man's foibles, the reader is lured into a visual and verbal world, where the writer and artist inhabit the same world. There is a philosophy to my father s dictum; his headstone in an eleventh-century graveyard attests to this, that To Live at all is Miracle Enough, while on a lighter note we re reminded that, the trouble with geraniums is that they're much too red , the painter in him letting us know that colour is central to both flower and artist. The inclusion near the end of the book of For Mr Pye An Island, a BBC radio adaptation of his novel Mr Pye, tells the story of an ex-banker committed to saving souls. My father s own missionary zeal; his father leading the way as a Congregationalist lay preacher, inspired in him a didactic imperative, a desire in this case to impart his enthusiasm for painting and writing to his students, pre the onset of Parkinson's Disease. How gratifying therefore to know that my mother s homage to her husband s art, her belief in his uniqueness and a settled and lifelong conviction that his voice should be heard, and his art seen, is reproduced here in this handsome British Library edition

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Review:

"Read by Sebastian and Fabian Peake, the author's sons, each piece is a little gem, showing not only the author's prodigious and unflagging imagination, but also an artist's approach to language. From the strange, Carrollian backwardness of 'The Weird Journey' where the narrator falls 'fast awake' and drifts into a peculiar travelogue, to the splendidly deprecating 'I Bought a Palm-Tree' we hear a writer at the peak of his powers. . . . This recording is a delightful and poignant homage to the writer and his work that will appeal to more listeners than just aficionados." --Elizabeth Bentley "Good Reading "

About the Author:

Mervyn Peake was a writer, artist, poet and playwright, best-known for his gothic masterpiece, the Gormenghast Trilogy, and his stunning illustrations for Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Maeve Gilmore was Mervyn Peake's wife. She edited several books pertaining to different aspects of Peake's work, and was an artist in her own right.

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Book Description Penguin Books Limited, London, England, 1981. Soft cover. Book Condition: Near Fine. 1st Edition. First Edition in softback published by Penguin Books in 1981 and in 'Near Fine' condition. Edited by Maeve Gilmore with an Introduction by John Watney. This book gathered good reviews from mainstream newspapers. Book measures in inches: 9.2 x 6.1. Numbered pages run to 576. As with all our sales of books within the UK, we only ever charge a flat standard delivery cost of £3.35. Bookseller Inventory # 001135

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