iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for A Hundred Years of Mervyn Peake

Listen now 30 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Last on

Sat 29 Oct 2011 19:30 BBC Radio 4 Extra

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 07 July 2011

"The intense love for my parents, with its resultant anguish, lives on for me". Sebastian Peake, eldest son of Mervyn Peake, the remarkable author and artist, takes a return trip to the Island of Sark where he spent his childhood.
Peake, whose centenary is being celebrated this week, is best known for his 'Titus Groan' series of novels, and to a lesser degree his art and illustrations; but he was also a passionate husband, married to artist Maeve Gilmore, and family man. Never too busy to indulge his children, he enriched their lives with his fantastical imagination as much as those who read his novels or relished his art.
Here, Sebastian revisits the family home in the Channel Islands, walks the traffic free byways, recalling his remarkable father; the day he sketched 50 of the islanders at the annual fair; the acts of derring-do, climbing down to dangerous coves to gather semi-precious stones for Maeve; his time as one of the Sark Group of painters; and finally the days spent writing his most famous novel, 'Gormenghast'.
With his brother Fabian, he pours over diaries, paintings and sketches to talk about their father's artistic legacy, from the best loved "Treasure Island" illustrations to poignant sketches of the last inhabitants of Belsen. With his sister Clare, he mourns his fathers struggles in later life, the onset of Parkinson's and the difficult final years for the family, and their mother in particular.

This is the life of Mervyn Peake, from his youth as an artist, to his untimely death in 1957, having become one of the most truly imaginative and haunting writers in the world, talking to those who knew him best.

Producer: Sara Jane Hall.

  • Sark, tunnel leading to the beach

    Sark, tunnel leading to the beach

  • The harbour at Sark

    The harbour at Sark

    The harbour is where in 'Titus Awakes', Titus returns to Sark and meets the Artist, a fictional version of Mervyn Peake

  • Fishing Boat in Sark

    Fishing Boat in Sark

  • Fishing boat in Sark harbour

    Fishing boat in Sark harbour

  • Presenter Sebastian Peake with his sister Clare.

    Presenter Sebastian Peake with his sister Clare.


Featured in...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss