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Mervyn Peake (1911-1968)


Mervyn Peake (1911-1968)

Though already developing as a painter, Mervyn Peake established himself as a writer and illustrator in 1939, with
Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor, a comic fantasy intended for children.This revealed that he had an outstanding talent for the grotesque, and was ready to align himself to Romantic tendencies in British art. He applied that talent to a broad range of visual and verbal forms, central to which was his ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy, an extraordinary imaginative achievement detailing a parallel world.

Mervyn Peake was born on 11 July 1911 in Kuling, Central Southern China, at the summer residence of his father, a missionary doctor. In the calm following the Communist Revolution, the Peake family settled in Tientsin (now Tianjin), close to Peking. Apart from a sojourn in England during the First World War, Peake spent all his early years there, so that its landscape and way of life retained a strong hold on his imagination.

In 1923, the family finally settled permanently in England, and Mervyn attended Eltham College, Kent, where he excelled at drawing. He then studied at Croydon School of Art (1929) and the Royal Academy Schools (1929-32), where he won the Arthur Hacker Prize (1930).

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