Sometimes life can be full of strangeness and sadness, and sometimes both of these together. Yesterday I posted about my trip to London and mentioned how J. and I used to be involved in the running of the Mervyn Peake Society. Today, while stumbling across some literary blogs in a random kind of way, I learned that Sebastian Peake, son of Mervyn, died suddenly in September.

Sebastian was Mervyn Peake’s eldest son, and he tirelessly promoted his father’s work during the time I knew him. He was kind and friendly, and very supportive while we were running the society. Mervyn Peake is an acquired taste, but those of us who love his work spend many hours trying to convince others of his genius. Sadly, I believe he is simply too talented and to unique to be appreciated by the mass public; but nevertheless I will always love his work.

I first read Peake’s “Gormenghast” books when I was 19. My then flatmate had given me a set of the three books at a Christmas gift, and I took them with me when I went home for the holidays. Needless to say, I was rather anti-social that Yule – I spent the break with my head in the books, entranced by Peake’s language and his illustrations, the pictures he painted in my head and the crazy and wonderful story he told. Nobody wrote or drew or painted or composed poetry like Mervyn Peake; he was a one-off.

Sebastian was a lovely man, but he seemed in some ways to live in the shadow of his father. However, he was always good company, fond of good food and wine, and his support made our involvement in the Peake Society great fun. His passing is sad, and I’m sure he will be missed by his lovely family plus brother Fabian and sister Clare.

(There is a very nice interview with all three Peake children here)

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