"I don't feel anything. Am I wicked?"

Fuschia, ink drawing.

Steerpike comes to Fuschia's attic, from the pages of Mervyn Peake's handwritten manuscript.

(Images from the Gormenghast section of the official Peake website.)

I first read Meryvn Peake's Gormenghast Trilogy when I was about 14. Rather than being confused by its complexities and the gradual descent into complete chaos, I was always enthralled, especially by the character of Lady Fuschia Groan:

"...a girl of about fifteen with long, rather wild black hair. She was gauche in movement and in a sense, ugly of face, but with how small a twist might she not suddenly have become beautiful. Her sullen mouth was full and rich – her eyes smouldered."

The idea of a castle in which a young woman could lose herself and hide from her family for a fortnight was always fascinating to me - in my head, my bedroom became Fuschia's attic haven. I think the Gormenghast books have always appealed to me because they are just so beautifully grotesque - and they are still as contemporary as when they were first published, over 6o years ago.

This year marks Mervyn Peake's centenary.
He really was a remarkable man, whose creativity flourished despite a debilitating disease - his writing and his artwork have always amazed and inspired me.

Tomorrow, an exhibition entitled "Lines of Flight" opens at the Laing Gallery in Newcastle. It's one of the biggest Peake retrospectives ever staged. Not only will the cast of Gormenghast be present, but also illustrations by Peake of some of Lewis Carroll's characters, as well as villains from Stevenson's Treasure Island & Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I think I am the busiest I have ever been, but I know I will find time to pay them a visit.

You can read about other Peake events taking place on the Mervyn Peake blog, which is curated by his eldest son Sebastian Peake, here.


Violetta E. said...


wobblinbetty said...

beautiful sketches and calligraphy... I wish I had a castle to hide for a fortnight too sometimes :)

Rachel Louisa. said...

I agree, it's a wonderful escapist wish to indulge in :)