Sussex Centre releases book of international fantasy conference

The Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy at the University of Chichester has produced a book of selected papers from its international conference on ‘Mervyn Peake and the Fantasy Tradition’.

The conference was held in July 2011 to coincide with the centenary of Peake’s birth, along with exhibitions of Peake’s illustrations in the Pallant House and Otter Galleries in Chichester. Scholars, artists, and writers from all over the world gave papers and presentations on the many different aspects of Peake’s work – not just the Gormenghast trilogy but also his books for children, his poetry, and his art.

The book, Miracle Enough: Papers on the Works of Mervyn Peake, contains a selection of these, and no other comparable collection of essays on Peake has ever been published. As well-known author Joanne Harris says on the cover of the book: “The varied approaches taken by these papers contribute to our understanding and appreciation of Mervyn Peake’s work, both as writer and illustrator.” Miracle Enough is available now; to purchase a copy or to see a sample pdf, go to:www.c-s-p.org/Flyers/Miracle-Enough–Papers-on-the-Works-of-Mervyn-Peake….

Peake had strong local connections with West Sussex. He lived, and worked on the Gormenghast books, at Burpham just down the road from Chichester, and he and his wife and parents are buried in Burpham churchyard.

Professor Bill Gray, Director of the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, said how delighted he is with the appearance of the book, dedicated to Mervyn Peake’s son Sebastian, who sadly died last year. “Sebastian was from early on very involved in the Mervyn Peake conference and the concurrent exhibitions at the Pallant House and Otter Galleries, at both of which he gave talks about his father’s pictures and illustrations. We were very keen for the conference and the exhibitions to be a success as they clearly meant so much to Sebastian, who gave a moving and very personal talk about his father at the conference.

“We thought we’d probably got it right when we overheard him summoning the other members of the Peake family to come to Chichester, which they duly did. It must have been rather intimidating for speakers at the conference giving papers on Mervyn Peake with virtually the whole Peake family in attendance!”

This illustrated book is a delightful record of a very special event, not least for the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy, whose first conference and art exhibition it was.

For more information on the Sussex Centre, visit www.sussexfolktalecentre.org.