Winnington Peter



Winnington, G. Peter. Walter Fuller: the Man Who Had Ideas. Mauborget: The Letterworth Press, 2014.

Based on years of research in unpublished letters, diaries, and archival documents, this biography reveals how the obscure Englishman, Walter Fuller, came to edit periodicals that between 1904 and 1910 were read throughout the Empire. In 1911 he took three of his sisters across to New York to sing folksongs. On the outbreak of WWI, he added anti-war songs to their repertoire, anticipating this means of social protest that became popular in the late 1960s. He also pioneered in anti-war propaganda and brought the Americans the concept of “civil liberties” that is defended to this day by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), co-founded by his wife Crystal Eastman. In the 1920s he returned to editing periodicals, first in New York and then in London, where the BBC chose him to edit its Radio Times.
In parallel the book charts the lives of Walter Fuller’s sisters, in particular Rosalind who, after inspiring Scott Fitzgerald with the story that financed his wedding, became an actress on Broadway and then in England, on stage, in films and even in the first televised play.

ISBN: 9782970065425 (hardback)
ISBN: 9782970065432 (softcover)

Publisher's Website



Winnington, G. Peter, ed. Miracle Enough: Papers on the Works of Mervyn Peake. Newcastle-on-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.

A selection of the papers presented at the international Mervyn Peake Centenary Conference at the University of Chichester, England, in 2011. It encompasses a wide variety of approaches to Peake’s work – not just the Gormenghast trilogy but also his books for children, his poetry, and his art. They compare Peake with other writers, explore the world of Gormenghast, and examine his characters and his poetical prose style. Two essays approach the graphic side of Peake’s oeuvre: the drawings he made in the manuscripts of the Titus books, and his illustrations for Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm. My own contribution, the opening speech of the Conference, shows for the first time how much Peake owed to Lewis Carroll. The book contains 60 illustrations and two tables.

ISBN: 9781443844116

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Maslen, Robert W., and G. Peter Winnington, eds. Complete Nonsense by Mervyn Peake. Manchester: Carcanet, 2011.

Peake (1911–68) is one of the great English nonsense poets, in the tradition of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. His verses lead the reader into places where cause is cut free of effect and language takes on a giddy life of its own. Malicious bowler hats threaten their owners, and a cake is chased across an ocean by a rakish knife while uncles and aunts turn into animals or objects.
Complete Nonsense contains all the poems and illustrations previously published in Peake’s Book of Nonsense (1972), with forty unpublished poems discovered in manuscripts and thirty from other uncollected sources, including all the nonsense verses from his novels. It reprints complete – for the first time and in colour – the words and images from Rhymes without Reason (1944), and Peake’s comic masterpiece Figures of Speech (1954). All the poems have been newly edited, often from Peake’s manuscripts, and are provided with notes.

ISBN: 9781847770875

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Winnington, G. Peter. Mervyn Peake’s Vast Alchemies. London: Peter Owen, 2009.

A revised edition of the biography of Peake, Vast Alchemies (2000), with much new information, particularly about the war years, and added illustrations.

ISBN: 9780720613414

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Gyger, Patrick J., and G. Peter Winnington. Lignes de fuite / Lines of Flight. Yverdon, Switzerland: Maison d'Ailleurs, 2009. Bilingual French/English.

This beautiful book was written to accompany the exhibition of Mervyn Peake’s original artwork for his illustrated books shown at the Maison d’Ailleurs in Yverdon during the winter of 2009–10. It contains an introduction by Patrick Gyger, the curator of the Maison d’Ailleurs (who has now moved on to direct the Lieu Unique in Nantes, France); an essay on Peake’s art, “The Draw of the Line  / L’Attrait du trait”; and a chronological bio-bibliography, both by Peter Winnington in English and French. With 74 reproductions of Peake’s work in black-and-white and 13 in colour. (NB It is not a catalogue.)

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Winnington, G. Peter. The English Department at Lausanne University: an informal account of its first hundred years. Mauborget: the Letterworth Press, 2009.

A little surprise that Peter prepared for his colleagues on the occasion of his retirement from the English department. Now out of print, but … you can view and/or download it from here.

ISBN: 9782970065401



Winnington, G. Peter , ed. Mervyn Peake: The Man and His Art. London: Peter Owen, 2006.

Early in 2006, Peake’s son Sebastian and his girlfriend Alison Eldred went to see Peter Winnington with their ideas for a book. In six weeks he put it together, writing most of the chapters (including those attributed to Sebastian) and incorporating texts about Peake from many different sources, including letters Winnington had received, to go alongside a wealth of images from an equally wide range of sources. Thanks to the design work of Benedict Richards, the first (hardback) edition of the resulting book is much sought after by collectors. One purchaser called it “the most beautiful book in the world”.
In a “star review” (i.e. recommended for libraries) the editor of Booklist, the organ of the American Librarians’ Association, wrote: “Writer-artist Peake (1911–68) seems ever about to be vaulted into the front rank of twentieth-century English artists. This marvelous album focused on his artwork may at last do the trick. His writing and the illustrative art for which he is best known are of a piece, balancing beauty and ugliness, humor and horror, sumptuousness and bleakness. Although he created gorgeous, romantic portraits, his famous figures are grotesques, descendants of Cruikshank’s and Tenniel’s in comic appeal; of Goya’s monsters, berserkers, and victims in shock appeal – especially in a satiric World War II series representing paintings ostensibly by Hitler. Some of his finest illustrations are those done for his own books, especially the trilogy of Titus Groan, Gormenghast, and Titus Alone that sustains his literary reputation, especially among the upper literary tier of fantasists. [With] seven technically revelatory biocritical chapters by Winnington, [and] as rewarding to the intellect as to the eye, this is a magnificent book.”

ISBN: 9780720613216

Publisher's Website


Winnington, G. Peter. The Voice of the Heart: the working of Mervyn Peake’s imagination. Liverpool UP, 2006.

The works of Mervyn Peake have fascinated readers for sixty years. His Gormenghast sequence of novels – recently serialized to great acclaim by the BBC – stands as one of the great imaginative accomplishments of twentieth-century literature. In The Voice of the Heart, G. Peter Winnington, the world’s foremost expert on Peake, sets his subject’s fiction in context with the poetry, plays and book illustrations which are less well known. He traces recurrent motifs through Peake’s works (islands, animals, and loneliness, for example) and explores in detail Peake’s long-neglected play, The Wit to Woo. Through close readings of all these elements of Peake’s oeuvre, Winnington is ultimately able to offer unparalleled insight into one of British literature’s most vibrant imaginations.

ISBN: 9781846310225

Publisher's Website



Winnington, G. Peter. Vast Alchemies: the Life and Work of Mervyn Peake. London: Peter Owen, 2000.

(Nominated – in a shortlist of only four titles – for the Mythopoeic Society’s Academic Award, 2003)

This biography was commissioned late in 1998 for publication to coincide with the BBC’s adaptation of Peake’s Titus Groan and Gormenghast as its “flagship mini-series” marking the new millennium, January 2000. So it was written in six months.
Starting with Peake’s family background, his birth and early years in China, his studies at the Royal Academy Schools and his time on Sark in an artists’ colony, it charts his development as an artist, poet, novelist, and playwright, and his premature decline, a victim of Parkinson’s disease.
“This readable and fascinating biography neither skimps nor attempts to by-pass the traumatic last years of Peake’s life.…
“Few books uncover the creative processes as well as this one does and within Winnington’s writing we could almost follow the working of Peake’s mind. It does seem to me that if you embark on the Gormenghast trilogy in the near future, you will be approaching the true depths of Peake’s achievement in a way that the BBC television series signally failed to do.…
“And if you enter Peake’s world it would be a good idea to take Peter Winnington’s book along as a companion volume since it is, to my mind, indispensable.” (Richard Edmonds in Birmingham Post, 12 February 2000.
“Written with mastery of facts and with respect for its subject, Vast Alchemies is now the essential source for information about Peake’s life.” (Joe Sanders in Science Fiction Studies (#85, Vol.28, No.3, Nov 2001).

Now out of print, superseded by Mervyn Peake’s Vast Alchemies (above)



Winnington, G. Peter. PPG: Peter’s Pragmatic Guide to Idiomatic English. First issued in 1996. The current edition is the 18th, 2014.

As soon as I bought a computer in 1982 (with its 64K of memory!) I began to use it to write my comments on student essays: it was faster than writing by hand and gave me endless space for feedback; it produced a printed document that the student could easily read; and provided me with a record of what I had written. As I read an essay, I wrote a number against the words or passage I wished to comment on, and then typed a numbered comment on the screen.
Then I began collecting standard comments on recurrent problems of expression that I could call up and insert instead of creating them afresh for each instance. Over the years I honed them and finally produced a photocopied brochure that I called PPG (for short) containing the most frequently required comments. Then, instead of writing a number and inserting a text, I could simply write “PPG” against the problem word or phrase in an essay and leave the student to look it up in the brochure. I suggested that students should highlight the entry that they were sent to so that they would know if they were repeating the same mistake – and make sure to correct it.
An added advantage is that a keen student can revise her English quickly and easily by going through the brochure. At a page a day, it takes only two months to become word perfect in English.
The “See and Not Say” section came later. An ex-student, having become a teacher herself, begged for the pronunciation hints I used to give in my lectures, since she couldn’t find them anywhere else. So I added them, with my customary humour. (Evaluating a course, one student exclaimed: “aussi amusant que d’aller voir un one-man-show!” You see, I think learning should be fun. As another student wrote, somewhat to her surprise: “we learn at the same time we laugh.”)
If you don’t have a printed copy of PPG, you can collect a pdf of it here. Enjoy! – Peter



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