2011 was Mervyn Peake’s centenary year
Here are some of the publications and events that marked the occasion
CURRENT Take your pick
Manchester Art Gallery is doing nice prints of Peake’s ‘Glassblower’ painting that they own – small ones at £6.07 to fit a standard 10 x 8 inch frame, or large ones (31.5 x 22 inches; 80 x 56 cm) for £22.
OCTOBER 2010 The Cave
The Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell, London, which hosted the dramatic reading of The Cave last year, mounted the world premiere of the play from 19 October to 6 November, 2010, directed by Aaron Paterson. See more of their activities below.
NOVEMBER 2010 Les Livres du Dimanche
In November 2010 the French publisher Denoel brought out an edition of the ‘Sunday Books’ in which Peake made pictures for his sons in the mid-1940s. Michael Moorcock provided a story (called ‘Captain Crackers’ after one of the pirates depicted) to accompany them; here it appears in French translation (and French reviews are listed in Peake in print).
In JUNE/JULY 2011 the Overlook Press published it in the United States; distribution in the UK is by Duckworth, at £18.99. It was discussed in PS 12:iii for October 2011 (pp.46 and 49).
ONGOING FROM JAN 2011 The sound of Gormenghast
Naxos Audio Books brought out Titus Groan on 31st January 2011, read by Rupert Degas; it was followed by Gormenghast on 28 March; Titus Alone is due in July. An abridgement of Titus Awakes was due in September, and all four recordings were due to be issued as a boxed set at £50 in November. You can hear a sample of the recording and Degas commenting on his choice of voices for various characters by clicking links on the Naxos page for Titus Groan.
The recording of Titus Groan was reviewed in the April 2011 issue of Peake STUDIES.
APRIL–JULY Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
showed some of the Maison d’Ailleurs “Lines of Flight” images between 9 April and 17 July, with the Rhymes without Reason illustrations separated off and shown at the Otter Gallery at the University of Chichester between 26 May and 17 July.
26 / 27 / 28 APRIL Listen to this!
The Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell is continuing its pioneering practice of bringing Peake’s plays to the public. It presented rehearsed readings of his as yet unperformed plays, Noah’s Ark and Mr Loftus, or a Horse of Air, on 26 and 27 April respectively, followed by readings from his poetry on 28 April. See more in November 2011 (below).
MAY TO SEPTEMBER ‘To the Sweep of a Steel Bay’: unseen paintings and drawings
From 5 May to 11 September 2011, the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery showed a small collection of paintings and drawings by Peake, most of them previously unseen and owned by his son Fabian. Included are some of Peake’s finest early portraits of old Sarkese men, several oil and pencil views of Sark, and quick chalk sketches done at the Sark Fête in July 1948, depicting prize cattle, decorated floats, and the fancy dress worn by Peake’s sons and the Sarkese. The show was beautifully presented.
One of the paintings and a drawing of Sark mill were printed, along with a review of the exhibition, in PS 12:iii for October 2011.
23 JUNE Living Outside Gormenghast
Clare Penate writes movingly of her life as Peake’s daughter in Under a Canvas Sky: Living Outside Gormenghast, published in hardback by Constable & Robinson on 23 June 2011 (ISBN 9781849015110). Reviews are listed after this book’s entry in part F of Peake in print.
JUNE More Progress
The British Library re-issued Peake’s Progress at £25, with a new cover and a new preface by Sebastian Peake. This being a facsimile edition, the contents are the same as in the corrected edition of 1981 (the large Penguin paperback), so all the stories and poems (with the exception of ‘The Touch o’ the Ash’) are now available in more recent and reliable editions.
It is accompanied by a two-CD audio book, for which Sebastian and Fabian recorded stories and poems in the book.
The BL is also selling a delightful pack of postcards reproducing ten of Peake’s illustrations from Ride-a-Cock-Horse; Rhymes without Reason; Household Tales, and Alice in Wonderland. Price, just £5 (ISBN: 9786000015671).
5 JULY to 18 SEPT The Worlds of Mervyn Peake
The British Library exhibited in the Folio Gallery some of its newly acquired Peake papers, along with explicative texts and recorded material.
7 JULY Peake Plays One
On the announced publication date Methuen was not ready with the long-awaited first volume of plays by Peake (ISBN 9780413777072), containing The Wit to Woo, Noah’s Ark, and The Cave edited by Peter Winnington. A new date has yet to be announced.
Methuen re-issued Letters from a Lost Uncle and The Hunting of the Snark as planned.
7 JULY TG + G + TA + TA
Alongside the publication of Maeve Gilmore’s ‘conclusion’ to the Titus books, Titus Awakes, published on 7 July as a £7.99 paperback, Vintage prepared a new hardback priced at £25 called the Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy, with many drawings (as decorations rather than illustrations) from Peake’s manuscripts. A paperback edition is expected a year later.
Isis, the audiobook company that in 1995 made recordings of the three Titus books read by Edmund Dehn, plans to bring out an unabridged reading of Titus Awakes.
FROM 9 JULY Viktor Wynd Fine Art
Paintings and drawings by both Mervyn Peake and Maeve Gilmore were shown at Viktor Wynd Fine Art (11 Mare Street, London E8 4RP).
JULY Complete Nonsense
Carcanet (the publisher of Peake’s Collected Poems) brought out an illustrated volume called Complete Nonsense (ISBN 978 1 847770 87 5), containing over a hundred poems, many new, some unfamiliar, and all those favourites from Rhymes without Reason and A Book of Nonsense, plus the drawings from Figures of Speech, over a hundred illustrations in all.
There’s a brilliant little stop-motion animated film of Uncle Jake (who became a snake) here.
JULY The BBC news
In July BBC’s Radio 4 broadcast Brian Sibley’s new adaption of the Titus books plus Titus Awakes as ‘The History of Titus Groan’, in six parts. (At the end of January 2012 it was awarded the BBC Radio’s ‘Best Adaptation’ award for 2011.)
The audio book of the series also includes Brian Sibley’s original 1984 radio adaptation of Titus Groan.
9 JULY 2011 Cruciverbalists celebrate too
On 12 March fans of Peake and The Times crossword puzzle enjoyed ‘Groan perhaps about pub that’s buzzing’ (= Tinnitus, quite a Peakish word when you remember his nonsense poem, ‘Tintinnabulum’). More Peake-inspired words appeared in The Inquisitor crossword in the Independent’s Saturday magazine and in the Listener crossword in The Times, both on 9th July.
15–17 JULY Peake conference
The department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, in collaboration with the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, hosted a Mervyn Peake Conference on 15, 16 and 17 July 2011. Keynote speakers included Joanne Harris, Colin Manlove, Katherine Langrish, Farah Mendlesohn, Sebastian Peake, and Peter Winnington. A selection of the papers presented has been published, titled Miracle Enough.
JULY TO SEPTEMBER
From 23 July to 25 September Tullie House in Carlisle displayed 182 of the pictures that were shown at the Lignes de Fuite / Lines of Flight exhibition in Yverdon (see Part E).
OCTOBER TO JANUARY 2012
The Laing art gallery in New Bridge Street, Newcastle, showed the same series from 15 October 2011 to 8 January 2012.
6 OCTOBER More theatre
Blackshaw, which put on an adaptation of Titus Groan in 2012, held a public reading of scenes from their script, Gormenghast: Titus Groan, at St Pancras Parish Church in Euston Road, London, on 6 October.
30 NOVEMBER to 20 DECEMBER Noah’s Ark
The Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell staged the world’s first production of Peake’s play for children, Noah’s Ark. Reviews here.
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