Guernsey

Mervyn Peake collection put up for sale

  • 28 November 2015
  • From the section Guernsey
Michael Kemp Image copyright Eric Dixon
Image caption Michael Kemp spent 30 years building up his collection of Mervyn Peake's works, which includes magazine articles and first editions

A large collection of works by British author Mervyn Peake, who wrote his famous Gormenghast trilogy while living in Sark, have gone on sale.

The collection, worth at least £100,000, is being sold by Kent-based bookseller Michael Kemp.

Peake was born in China in 1911 to British parents but returned to England whilst still at school.

In the 1940s he moved to Sark where he wrote his famous trilogy. His book Mr Pye was also set in the island.

Mr Kemp said it took 30 years to build the collection, which he began after being given the Gormenghast trilogy for his 18th birthday.


Image copyright Eric Dixon
Image caption The first edition of Mr Pye features a pen and ink drawing of the character looking out to sea in Sark

Mervyn Peake timeline

  • 1911 - Born 9 July in Kiang-Hsi Province, China
  • 1923 - Moves to England and lives at Wallington, in Surrey
  • 1931 - Has one of his paintings chosen for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
  • 1933 - Moves to Sark for the first time and lives on the island for two years
  • 1935 - Moves back to London having exhibited his work on several occasions with The Sark Group
  • 1939 - His first book Captain Slaughterboard is published by Country Life
  • 1945 - Visits Germany as war artist, commissioned by The Leader magazine
  • 1946 - Titus Groan is published by Eyre & Spottiswoode
  • 1946 - The Peake family moves to Le Chalet in Sark
  • 1950 - Gormenghast is published
  • 1951 - Wins the Heinemann Prize for Literature for Gormenghast and The Glassblowers and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
  • 1952 - Moves back to Wallington his childhood home
  • 1959 - Titus Alone published
  • 1968 - Dies 17 November at a care home run by his brother in law

Source:The Mervyn Peake Estate


"What you have to do in a collection is get as close as possible to the author, so the first edition, his first view of the story," he explained.

"I am a fanatical completist, it means that regardless of cost if something exists by Mervyn Peake I have to have it," he said.

Peake lived in Sark twice, the first time in 1932 at an artists' colony established by Eric Drake, and then he returned with his wife and children in 1946.

Mr Kemp said: "I think he was taken by the landscape of Sark, there are a lot of little landscapes that he drew there.

"I think he may have been frustrated as it was a conservative place, but he played on it and he and a friend went to Guernsey to get their ears pierced, which was unusual for men then."

Image copyright Eric Dixon
Image caption The collection also includes articles and illustrations created by Peake for a variety of publications during his life

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