One book (well, I cheat a little - series) that I would have to take on a desert island with me is the astonishingly brilliant "Gormenghast" trilogy by Mervyn Peake. If you have never read this series, beginning with "Titus Groan" and followed by "Gormenghast" and "Titus Alone" (the latter being written whilst Peake's powers as a writer began to wane, as he fell ill - neverthess, still a must-read) then you really should pick up a copy. You'll probably be scarcely able to avoid one, given that it's Peake's centenery celebration, this year - news that has been made all the more exciting by the discovery of a fourth book, in manuscript form - the never-before published fourth part in the Gormenghast trilogy will form part of an extensive period of publishing to mark Mervyn’s Peake’s life and works. TheBookseller.Com reports -
"Vintage will publish Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake and his late wife Maeve Gilmore on 7th July, as a £7.99 paperback. After Peake’s death in 1968, Gilmour completed the manuscript to Titus Awakes. Laura Hassan, editorial director at Vintage, said: “Mervyn envisaged it as a series rather than a trilogy that went on and on through Titus’ life.”
The manuscript was lost on completion but found last year in a family attic. Hassan said: “The manuscript was a finished book and it looks like Maeve, or someone else, worked on editing it somewhat. There are notes in the margins and annotations.”
The book has been edited in conjunction with Peake’s three children. It is about Titus, the lord of the Gormenghast kingdom, who travels to the modern world.
Also on the 7th July, Vintage will publish the Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy, which features more than 100 sketches from Peake with 75% of them never before published. The hardback will be priced £20. Hassan said: “Before Peake wrote the books, he drew the characters. It’s so unbelievable for a writer to be such a remarkable draughtsman.”
Both books form part of a wider programme of titles on Peake. Constable & Robinson will publish a memoir by his daughter Clare Penate, Under a Canvas Sky, on 26th May as a £14.99 hardback. Queen Anne Press will release a special centenary edition of Peake’s works, limited to 150 sets. Peter Owen will release the centenary edition of A Book of Nonsense on 30th June as a £12.99 paperback.
The BBC is planning to repeat the Gormenghast trilogy on BBC4, with a new radio broadcast set for Radio 4 and a repeat of the original radio series on BBC Radio 7.
The British Library will host an exhibition celebrating Peake’s life and work with further exhibitions across the UK, including his Alice in Wonderland illustrations at the University of Sheffield and his Sark drawings at the Museum of Art in Guernsey".
I strongly urge you to go straight to your bookshop and pick up the first installment - you have a real treat in store..............