Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

Although it’s never achieved the fame of series like The Lord of the Rings, the Gormenghast trilogy is considered to be a fantasy masterpiece. The series begins with the birth of Titus Groan, heir to the throne, and follows Titus into adulthood. Peake had intended to continue the series, but this was prevented by his health issues and death.

The first book in the series, Titus Groan, was originally published by Eyre & Spottiswoode in 1946. The edition shown above was released in 1968 by Ballantine Books. While the cover was painted by artist Bob Pepper, the book includes eight of Mervyn Peake’s interior illustrations.

Bob Pepper was a prolific artist that was most active from the late sixties into the early 80s. He created covers for numerous Philip K. Dick books, and was also the cover artist for novels like The Mask of Circe by Henry Kuttner and Driftglass by Samuel R. Delany. He painted covers for all three of the Gormenghast books.

The Gormenghast titles have been translated into more than twenty languages and have been reprinted numerous times. The original hardback version of the book featured cover art from Mervyn Peake. The first edition cover art was re-used for Overlook Presses’ paperback edition (shown below), which was initially released in 1992.

Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake

Titus Groan has been adapted a number of times, in several different mediums. In 1984, BBC Radio 4 broadcasted radio plays of both Titus Groan and Gormenghast. Sting provided the voice of Steerpike. A television miniseries aired on both BBC and PBS in 2000. The book has also been adapted for the stage on numerous occasions.