Mervyn Peake’s Bleak House drawings

As you may know by now, “Bleak House” and “Gormenghast” jostle at the very top of my all-time favorite books list. Just as their authors jostle for the the title of Favorite Writer.

Amazingly, the author of Gormenghast is an illustrator of Bleak House. Although it seems his drawings were never published in a Bleak House edition, they are blessedly online and, indeed, offered for sale! (They cost considerably more than my house, sadly.)


Here is The Rev. Chadband. You really should go see the full size version.


And here is the lovely Judy Smallweed, just waiting to “shake up” Mr. Smallweed.

What a book! And what illustrations!! Could any other illustrator have gotten these awful, awful people so right?

 Peake is ….

… not always an easy illustrator to love, just as, at times, his writing can be quite painful to read. In both areas he is an uncompromising force of nature. You may think that Capt. Slaughterboard Drops Anchor is one of the strangest things you’ve ever read…

Captain Slaughterboard

… but I recently read the original Capt. Slaughterboard story in Peake’s Progress and, man, is it disturbing….

One Response

  1. Peake’s illustrations for Bleak House were published as Sketches from Bleak House with suitable passages from the novel selected and introduced by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen in 1983. More details at this foot of this page:

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