Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Wonderful Mervyn Peake

Writer and illustrator Mervyn Peake, born in 1911, was best known for his stellar evocations of Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, and The Hunting of the Snark, and the wonderful Titus Groan ('41).  Personally, I'm also a big fan of his script for the superb radio play The Eye of the Beholder.

His 'Study of a girl from Edgware Road' ('38) is mesmerizing, typical of his striking style. 

The above illustration, from the book 'Witchcraft in England' ('45), has a wonderful gritty quality that, for some reason, makes me think of the beast men of Island of Lost Souls

Many of the subjects of Peake's work seem to be in possession of damaged souls, and it is this status that makes them so compelling for me. We connect with these outcasts and loners because they appear ready to challenge their condition.

This knowing child, 'Clare' ('49), is really special.

I urge you to hunt down Mervyn Peake - Writings and Drawings ('74; St. Martin's Press).

Sadly, Peake died at just 57.

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