1959: Titus Alone
Author/Editor: Mervyn Peake
The third book in the Gormenghast Trilogy, Titus Alone is a bizarre story of identity and imagination. Following the journey of Titus Groan, an Earl who renounces his succession to explore the world, this book describes an almost nightmare world of death rays, shark-shaped cars, and mysterious, faceless policemen. Titus ultimately realizes how much of his identity is based on his former life that he abandoned and yearns for normalcy.
Because of the odd environment that he creates in Titus Alone, and a stylistic deviation from previous works, many readers have questioned the sanity of the author, Mervyn Peake; indeed, Peake showed signs of Parkinson’s disease and mental instability during the 1950s while writing this book. Despite this, the Gormenghast Trilogy has been referred to as “works of pure, violent, self-sufficient imagination that are from time to time thrown up…poetry flows through [Peake’s] volcanic writing.”
Mervyn Peake was born in China. His parents were missionaries and from an early age he demonstrated a love of drawing and writing. His family returned to England when he was a young man and he attended college in London and began a successful career as illustrator and writer. The Gormenghast books are by far his best known. It was in May of 1943 after a discharge from the army that Peake began his epic work.
Source Citation (MLA 7th Edition)
Winnington, G. Peter. “Mervyn Peake.” British Novelists, 1930-1959. Ed. Bernard Stanley Oldsey. Detroit: Gale Research, 1983. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 15. Literature Resource Center. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. Retrieved from: