Richard Warren

20thc British art and poetry (mainly), plus bits of my own – "Clearly I tap to you clearly along the plumbing of the world" (W S Graham)

George Barker by Mervyn Peake

My first page of fragments on George Barker updated with an image of him by Mervyn Peake, artist, illustrator and author of the Gormenghast trilogy. (When will the BBC get round to repeating the excellent TV adaptation of Ghormenghast broadcast in 2000?) The Jessica Dismorr image of Barker on the same page makes an interesting comparison to this charcoal drawing by Mervyn Peake published in the London Mercury for June 1937. There seems to have been no particular connection between Barker and Peake, though both were in London at the time, and Peake wrote to Barker in the same month, presumably in connection with this. Peake was an inspired illustrator, and this is a pleasing image and a good likeness in its way, though with Peake’s portraits one feels that living people are seen through a lense of authorship, somehow tending towards the condition of characters. In effect, everyone is slightly Gormenghastified. Here, Barker could almost be a benevolent and sensitive elder brother to Steerpike.

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One response to “George Barker by Mervyn Peake

  1. Richard Bruce Clay March 5, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    If you liked the 2000 adaptation of Peake, search out the earlier (about 1985) BBC Radio version – which was superior in most respects – save for Christopher Lee’s beautifully sympathetic Mr Flay on TV. Eleanor Bron, Bernard Hepton, Stratford Johns and Sting were all astonishing.

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