Exhibitions of Peake’s work, his plays, radio talks, drawings and designs for the theatre (and a film), adaptations (by others) for the theatre, radio and television, musical works inspired by Peake, and other printed ephemera
Where I have but a single source of information that I have been unable to confirm, the source is identified by a letter in parentheses, as follows:
‘B’ stands for Batchelor’s book on MP,
‘G’ for Maeve Gilmore’s memoir, A World Away,
‘W’ for John Watney’s biography, Mervyn Peake, and
‘Y’ for Malcolm Yorke’s biography, MP: My Eyes Mint Gold.
See Part F for further information on these titles. For all the other abbreviations used, see the list on this site.
Academy, April 1931,
1 still life, ‘Cactus’.
Visible in photographs in Sphere, 4 April 1931, p.3: ‘Sending-in day: first arrivals at the Royal Academy’, reproduced in WD, p.16.
Chat Noir [Old Compton St.], 1931 (W),
unknown number of paintings, including ‘The Chef’.
Regal Restaurant [Soho], December 1931–January 1932 (W), ‘Soho Group’
12 paintings, including ‘Cactus’ (12 guineas) – see first item above.
Birmingham Post (W).
Wertheim Gallery, 3–23 January 1932, ‘Twenties Group’
3 paintings, including portraits of P G (‘Goatie’) Smith, Annie Tompkins, and ‘The Chef’ (10 guineas) which had already been shown at the ‘Chat Noir’ (above), and was reproduced in the News Chronicle (W).
This exhibition moved on to Worthing in February 1932.
Wertheim Gallery, before June 1932 (W), ‘Twenties Group’
paintings, including a portrait, ‘The Wild Head’ (5 guineas).
- Wertheim Gallery,
1933 (G – probably an error for the previous item(s))
The Art Gallery, Sark, 30 August 1933–??, ‘Opening exhibition’
8 oil paintings, including ‘Darts’ [depicting two Sarkese playing in a tavern], ‘Orchard’, ‘The Spring Song’, ‘Tiger, Tiger’, and ‘Five Heads’; chalk and charcoal studies; 8 small water colours, including ‘Puy de Dome’; 7 figure drawings.
Guernsey Evening Press, 31 August 1933 [which mentions that MP had already exhibited at the Redfern Gallery ‘with the London groups’]; and
Guernsey Advertiser and Weekly Star, 2 September 1933.
See also Borlase Smart, ‘Sark – a new artists’ colony’, The Artist, November 1933, p.100.
Redfern Gallery, November 1933
‘The Redfern Gallery has taken one of Mervyn’s [paintings]’ – letter from Eric Drake to the Dame of Sark, 7 November 1933 (Y).
Cooling Galleries, 1–14 May 1934, ‘Paintings by the Sark Group’
paintings, including a portrait of the Prevot of Sark, Mr Baker. [The ‘Sark Group’ were Lisel Drake, Brenda Streatfeild, Janice Thompson, Antony Bridge and MP.]
Birmingham Post, 2 May 1934
Daily Herald, 2 May 1934
Daily Sketch, 2 May 1934
Sunday Times, 27 May 1934, p.5, by Frank Rutter
Christian Science Monitor, 9 June 1934, by Frank Rutter
The Artist, July 1934, p.165
- The Art Gallery,
Sark, 21 May–16 June 1934, ‘First exhibition, second season’
works include a set of 12 animal drawings and a portrait in oils of J. Hotton.
Guernsey Star, 22 May 1934
The Art Gallery, Sark, 18 June–14 July 1934, ‘Second exhibition, second
11 oil paintings.
The Art Gallery, Sark, 16 July–11 August 1934, ‘Third exhibition,
1 oil painting of Lisel Drake (15 guineas) and contributions to ‘Paintings and drawings by the Sark Group’ [i.e. those shown at the Cooling Galleries shortly before].
The Art Gallery, Sark, 1–29 September 1934, ‘Fourth exhibition, second
season.’ ‘Paintings by Sark Artists’
4 oils: ‘Houses and Trees’, ‘Trees, La Valette’, ‘The Church, Sark’, ‘Lanie’.
Royal Society of British Artists, April 1935,
- Leger Galleries, 1936 (G)
Calmann Gallery, 4–26 March 1938,
33 drawings and 20 paintings.
One drawing, of walking female nudes (ironically titled ‘Two maidens’), was reproduced in London Mercury, March 1938, vol.37, no.221, f.p.501 (Part D).
The Times, 7 March 1938 (‘he has originality and is a good draughtsman. He has the ability, comparatively rare in England, to suggest roundness by the inflections of a line which does not vary in thickness’)
Manchester Guardian, 11 March 1938
Spectator, 11 March 1938, p.427, by Anthony Blunt
Sunday Times, 13 March 1938, by Eric Newton
Liverpool Daily Post, 17 March 1938
Leicester Galleries, 22 February–10 March 1939,
paintings and 46 drawings.
One drawing, two back views of a nude figure, was reproduced in London Mercury, March 1939, vol.39, no.233, f.p.505 (Part D). This is probably the work that (according to Watney) was shown again in the summer of 1939.
Maeve Gilmore had an exhibition of her own at the Wertheim Galleries during the middle week of MP’s.
Daily Mail, 24 February 1939
Evening News, 24 February 1939, with photo of MP ‘sketching Mrs Peake while she paints a portrait of him’)
Star, 24 February 1939, with photo of ‘a model couple: MP sketching his wife, MG, as she paints his portrait’
[Daily] Sketch, 25 February 1939 (‘eight of the pictures were sold at the private view’)
Cavalcade, 11 March 1939, with photo of MP solus
Reynolds’ News 19 March 1939
Delius Giese, 13 June 1939, ‘Satirical drawings of our time’
at least one drawing, ‘Conversation-piece’.
News Chronicle 13 June 1939, p.8, by Henry Bean (‘reminds me of all that is best in surrealist Salvador Dali, and all that is funniest in Alice in Wonderland’)
Leicester Galleries, summer 1939 (W), ‘paintings, drawings and sculpture
by Artists of Fame and Promise’
Galleries, December 1939, ‘8 1/2 x 6: Little pictures by Contemporary Artists’
132 paintings (all the same size and price), by a number of artists including MP and MG.
Stafford Gallery, April 1940, ‘The War as I See it’
1 painting, ‘I was called’.
Sunday Times, 21 April 1940 by Eric Newton (cites Peake’s painting as an instance of ‘things truly felt’)
American British Art Centre, New York, 1941,
10 cartoons [presumably from the Ministry of Information leaflet (see below, under ‘Other Printed Ephemera’)].
Leicester Galleries, December 1941, ‘Drawings by Mervyn Peake’
52 drawings, including 14 for Ride a Cock-Horse, 6 for S&S (not used in the book), and 2 for The Hunting of the Snark.
One of the S&S drawings, bought by the composer Richard Addinsell, came up for sale by auction on 14 November 2007.
Adams Gallery, 1943 (G)
Calmann Gallery, 1943 (B)
National Gallery, 1943,
‘The Glassblowers’ exhibited.
- The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, 31 March–25 May 1944, ‘Artists Aid China Exhibition for Lady Cripps’ United Aid to China Fund’
2 drawings: 'Mother and Child' and 'Clown'
- Peter Jones’,
drawings, engravings, and oil paintings, including ‘Mr Brown’s Resurrection’.
Sunday Times, 18 June 1944, p.2, by Eric Newton (reprinted in In My View (Longmans, Green & Co, 1950), pp.155–7)
Time & Tide, 8 July 1944, by Maurice Collis
Studio, September 1944, vol.128, pp.89– 91 (p.90) by Cora J. Gordon
- Peter Jones’, (?September) 1944, ‘Loaves and Fishes’
1 painting, ‘Plaice’.
Mentioned in Time & Tide, 23 December 1944, by Maurice Collis.
The Gallery Roland (Browse & Delbanco), March 1945, ‘Vision and reality
in three centuries of English drawings’
Mentioned in The Windmill, 1945, vol.1, no.2, p.49.
Leicester Galleries, October–November 1945, ‘Drawings by Mervyn Peake
illustrating Maurice Collis’s new book Quest for Sita and other subjects’
Adams Gallery 1945 (W – probably a mistake for 1946 item)
Arcade Gallery, late 1945,
painting, ‘Figure in Yellow’, reproduced in Studio, December 1945, vol.130, no.633, p.183 (see Part D); also mentioned in Time & Tide, 1 September 1945, p.728, by Maurice Collis.
Redfern Gallery, 16 May–8 June 1946, ‘Recent paintings by Mervyn Peake’
- Adams Gallery, 5–27 July 1946, ‘Paintings by Mervyn Peake’
Arcade Gallery, 15–30 November 1946.
50 drawings. Alluded to by Cora Gordon in Studio, March 1947, pp.93–94.
St. George’s Gallery, (?September) 1947, ‘Welsh painting’
‘The Black Hat’.
Time & Tide, 18 October 1947, by Maurice Collis (‘reminds us that MP is Welsh’ [sic])
Society of British Artists, Spring 1948,
‘Girl and Child’, and ‘The Still Girl’; the latter is reproduced in WD, p..
Society of British Artists, Spring 1949,
‘Two Clowns’ and ‘The Still Girl’. The former is probably the ‘Clowns embracing’ reproduced in WD, p..
Waddington Galleries, Dublin, March 1951 (Y),
- Gorringes, 18 June
‘Two centuries of British humorous art’
- Waddington Galleries,
Dublin, July 1956,
Army & Navy Stores, 15–27 October 1956,
‘Authors as Artists’
Collectors Gallery, c.1957 (G)
Waddington Galleries, 27 November–20 December 1958,
‘Line drawings by Mervyn Peake’
Freedom, 13 December 1958, vol.19, no.50, p.2, by D[onald] R[ooum]
Studio, March 1959, vol.157, pp.92–4 (p.93), by G. S. Whittet
Holloway Hospital, Virginia Water, (early) 1959 (W),
paintings by MG and MP.
Collectors Gallery, 20 September–5 October 1963,
34 items including portraits of celebrities, fey children, cats, clowns, and nudes. Catalogue introduction by Maurice Collis.
Arts Review, 21 September 1963, p.14, by Max Wykes-Jones (‘living, vital beings trapped for all time in a few strokes of a brush, pen, or pencil.’ MP is one of those who ‘create not for a day but for a century, not for themselves but for their children’s children’)
Road Gallery, September 1963 (Y)
Portobello Road Gallery, May 1966,
various paintings and drawings.
- Upper Grosvenor
Galleries, 4–22 July 1966, ‘Mervyn Peake’
8 oils, and 85 drawings, plus 11 other drawings ex-catalogue. Catalogue introduction by Terence Mullaly.
Spectator, 15 July 1966, p.81, by Henry Tube.
Daily Telegraph, date not known, quoted by Yorke p.318
Arts Review, 9 July 1966, by M. Wykes-Jones
[City of] Westminster Public Library, 22 January–24 February 1968, ‘Mervyn
books, drawings, and MSS.
Library Association Record, vol.70, p.6 of Liaison.
Edinburgh University, 25 April 1969, ‘Secondary Worlds Symposium’
2 drawings, letters, and a representative selection of books. [Attended by MG who answered questions about MP’s work.]
Eltham College, 12 July 1969, ‘Mervyn Peake: a commemorative exhibition’
34 paintings and drawings, MSS, and tape recordings of broadcast work (‘Rhyme of the Flying Bomb’ by the BBC, and ‘Boy in Darknes’ at the Mind’s Eye Theatre, New York).
Swansea University, Wales, 1970 (G)
National Book League, 5–26 January 1972 (published dates); extended to 3
February 1972, ‘Word and Image III’
books, drawings, and MSS.
The abundantly illustrated catalogue contains an introduction by Maeve Gilmore (pp.5–9) and a chronology of MP’s life (pp.10 & 11).
Connoisseur, January 1972, vol.179, no.719, p.75, by Caroline Shaw
Guardian, 5 January 1972, by Alex Hamilton
Times, 5 January 1972, p.6, by Brian Alderson
Arts Review, 15 January 1972, vol.24, no.1, p.11, by Maurice Collis (with a photograph of MG, with Maurice Collis and Beatrice Greek, on p.7)
Daily Telegraph, 15 January 1972, p.10, by Terence Mullaly
TLS, 11 February 1972, p.154
American Notes and Queries, 8 April 1972, vol.10, no.8, p.126, by Rigby Graham
Culture Centre, Antwerp, 6 October–4 November 1973, and Royal Library, Brussels,
1 December 1973–26 January 1974, ‘Pen as Pencil’
1 oil painting, 2 pencil drawings, and 1 in chalk.
Wednesbury Art Gallery, August 1974, ‘44 Modern British Drawings’
‘Dead rat’, on loan from the V. & A.
St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, 1975 (G),
Mervyn Peake exhibition
Gallery, Liverpool, 5 May–5 June 1976, ‘an honest patron’ [a
tribute to Sir Edward Marsh]
3 drawings. [Sir Edward also owned an oil painting, which (according to the catalogue) he bought at the Leicester Galleries exhibition of 1939. MG believed it was earlier, at the Calmann Gallery in March 1938.]
Gallery, 4 January 1978–??, ‘Fantasy and imagination’
3 oil paintings: ‘Yellow Man’, ‘Clown’, ‘Two Clowns’ (reproduced in WD, p.).
MPR 6:30, by Louise Collis
Woodstock Gallery, May 1978,
Reported in Guardian of 27 May 1978.
Library, Oxford, 17 November 1978–13 January 1979, ‘Mervyn Peake 1911–1968’
MSS, drawings, and illustrations.
The opening speech by E.J.S. Parsons was printed in MPR 8:32–33.
MPR 8:33–36, by Hugh Brogan
Eltham College, 2–14 July 1979, Commemorative exhibition
paintings, drawings, and illustrations.
MPR 9:34–37, by Diana Gardner
DLI Museum and Arts Centre, 8 December 1979–13 January 1980; Douglas Hyde
Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, 4 March 1980–??; Oldham Art Gallery, Union
St., Oldham, 31 May–19 July 1980; Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, early October–19
October 1980; Walsall, 28 March–25 April 1981; The University of York, 4–31
May 1981; and The Ilkley Literature Festival, 11–24 July 1981,
‘The voice of a pencil’ – paintings and drawings.
MG’s introduction to the catalogue was reprinted in MPR 10:31–33.
Durham Advertiser, 30 November 1979
Durham Advertiser, 13 December 1979, by Jackie Levitas
Arts Review, 21 December 1979, vol.31, no.25, pp.718–19, by John Milner
Northern Echo, 28 December 1979, by W. E. Johnson
Arts North, December 1979–January 1980
Guardian, 2 January 1980, by Pamela Kirk
Irish Times, 7 March 1980, by Brian Fallon
Yorkshire Post, 11 October 1980
‘MP: humanist. Three paintings of old men’ by Diana Gardner, MPR 11:41– 45
Theo Waddington Gallery, 9 September–3 October 1981, ‘Drawings and
Guardian, 9 September 1981, p.10
Arts Review, 18 September 1981, p.397, by Ben Mallalieu
The Tablet, 19 September 1981, by John Griffiths
Daily Telegraph, 23 September 1981, by Terence Mullaly
[These reviews were quoted at length in MPR 13:43–44]
- Victoria & Albert Museum, 21 October 1981–21 February 1982, ‘The art of Radio Times: six decades of original illustrations’
- (Main foyer of the)
Royal Festival Hall, 16 February–12 April 1987, ‘Mervyn Peake
Some 500 items according to the press release but only 250 according to other sources. No catalogue.
Financial Times, 24 February 1987, by William Packer (‘wonderful accomplishment’)
(London) Evening Standard, 26 February 1987, by Brian Sewell (‘What’s on view here could well have been painted by an amateur lady in Farnham dabbling away with coloured vaseline and tinted butter’
Arts Review, 27 February 1987, by Beatrice Phillpotts
What’s On and Where to go, 5 March 1987, by Michael Leech (‘a vastly gifted artist’)
The Observer, 15 March 1987, by William Feaver
The Times, 17 March 1987, by John Russell Taylor
Today, 20 March 1987
Jersey Evening Post, 25 March 1987
- Guernsey Museum and
Art Gallery, 6 September–1 November 1987
Beetles Gallery, London, 14 June–8 July 1994
- National Literature Centre for Wales [now called Ty Llen], Swansea, Wales, 4 February–30
March 1997, ‘Drawings by Mervyn Peake’
No further details.
- La Maison d’Ailleurs, Yverdon, Switzerland, 3 October 2009–14 February 2010, ‘Lignes de Fuite/Lines of Flight’
Some 250 illustrations for Captain Slaughterboard, Rhymes without Reason, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Household Tales, Treasure Island, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Mr Pye. Accompanied by a book, Lignes de Fuite/Lines of Flight, reproducing over a hundred of the illustrations along with bilingual texts by Patrick Gyger, Peter Winnington and Michael Moorcock. (Glimpses of the show on this site and on Sebastian Peake’s)
Reviews (in French)
L’Hebdo [Lausanne] for week beginning 1 October 2009, No 40, pp.80–82, by Antoine Duplan
Le Temps [Geneva], 3 October 2009, p.17, by Nicolas Dufour
24 Heures [Lausanne], 15 October 2009, p.42, by Frédéric Ravussin
Le Courrier [Geneva], 17 October 2009, p.21, by Vincent Gerber
Swisster [web only; no longer available], 19 October 2009, by Michèle Laird
See also Michael Moorcock’s diary, Financial Times, 30 October 2009
- Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery, 5 May to 11 September 2011, ‘To the Sweep of a Steel Bay’
A small collection of paintings and drawings, mostly previously unseen and owned by Fabian Peake. Included are two of Peake’s finest portraits of old Sarkese men, several oil and pencil views of Sark and Guernsey, and about two dozen quick chalk sketches done at the Sark Fête in July 1948, depicting prize cattle, decorated floats, and the fancy dress worn by MP’s sons and the Sarkese.
ranging in price from 20 to 150 guineas
Studio, November 1946, p.155 by Cora J. Gordon (‘the best he has yet produced’)
Books illustrated by MP were shown at exhibitions >1983
National Book League, November 1946, ‘British Book Illustration 1935–45’
Ride a Cock-Horse.
National Book League, 12 December 1973–12 January 1974, ‘Looking at
Ride a Cock-Horse and Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor (A1a, b, and e).
In the catalogue, Brian Alderson comments on Ride a Cock-Horse: ‘the imagination working within these illustrations supplies an energy far beyond anything that Brian Wildsmith could manage in Mother Goose [the neighbouring item in the exhibition]. Mervyn Peake’s view of nursery rhymes . . . flows from an intensive reading of and response to the chosen rhymes and as such (and most unusually) raises the stature of these little verses to a new imaginative level. Even where, as in ‘I saw a ship a-sailing’, he uses only part of the rhyme, he contrives to embue it with a new and inexplicable sense of mystery.’ On CSDA, he observes that ‘recent printings in black and yellow only help to emphasize how far the quality of the book lies in its drawing.’
Observer (colour supplement), 9 December 1973, pp.66–7, ‘Every picture sells a story’ by Ena Kendall
Books and Bookmen, July 1974, pp. 80–81, ‘The purpose of illustration’ by Konstantin Bazarov
National Book League, May 1973, ‘Three centuries of nursery rhymes and poetry
Ride a Cock-Horse.
Catalogue comments by Iona and Peter Opie: ‘The other-worldliness of the nursery rhymes, and the human predicament of the nursery rhyme characters, is precisely conveyed in this most elegantly-designed of nursery rhyme books. Two copies are shown so that the book can be fully appreciated.’
National Book League, 25 September–15 October 1975, ‘British Book
Design and Production 1975’
Drawings 1974, selected as one of the 50 best-designed books of the year. Also shown at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Brillig Gallery, Bath Festival, June 1979, ‘Alice in Wonderland’
MP’s Alice books.
Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, 29 September 1977–15 January 1978, ‘After
Alice: a hundred years of children’s reading in Britain’
Ride a Cock-Horse.
Catalogue comments by Christine A. Kloet:‘One of Peake’s early illustrated books for children, Ride a Cock-Horse is a fine example of this artist’s strikingly individual style, which sometimes borders on the grotesque and macabre. These qualities are more apparent in the 1945 edition, printed on differently coloured papers, of his illustrated children’s story Captain Slaughterboard Drops Anchor, which had the most startling appearance of any picture book at that time. Peake provided haunting drawings for editions of children’s classics, including Grimm’s Household Tales (1946) and Treasure Island (1949), but his illustrations have never appealed widely to the young.’
Cotton Gallery, Midland Arts Centre, Birmingham, 7–20 November 1983, ‘From
Cruikshank to Peake: a century of British book illustration’, as part of
the first Birmingham Festival of Readers and Writers.
The Hunting of the Snark.
- A Christmas Commission (or A Mural for Christmas)
from a Lost Uncle
MP’s adaptation for Independent Television of his story for children (A6), 12-part series broadcast November–December 1955.
MP’s adaptation of his novel as a 1-hour play for radio. Broadcast live on the BCC Third Programme on 27 February 1956.
The Wit to Woo
Printed in Peake’s Progress (pp.267–374, although it should be noted that this version does not correspond to the script of the first performance). Performed
a. Arts Theatre Club, 12 March–mid-April 1957
The Daily Mail, 13 March 1957, by Cecil Wilson
The Daily Telegraph, 13 March, by W. A. Darlington
The Times, 13 March 1957
Manchester Guardian, 14 March 1957, by Philip Hope-Wallace (‘an unpretentious and tolerable jape’)
Observer, 17 March 1957 (‘The play has an exhilarating oddness, but breaks a salient comic rule: where everyone is eccentric, nobody is funny, because there is no norm against which to measure them. . . . From Mr Peake one demands many more plays, but much less playfulness’)
Sunday Times, 17 March 1957
Illustrated London News, 23 March 1957, vol.230, p.470, by J.C. Trewin
Punch, 20 March (‘altogether too wild. . . . Mr Peake should have a much better play in him’) and 27 March 1957
The Sketch, 27 March 1957 (‘a fantastic farce in blank verse, lost in a whirl of words’)
Theatre World, April 1957, by L.M. (‘the author allows the comic possibilities to run away with him’)
Plays and Players, May 1957, by Anthony Merryn
Encore, July 1957, vol.3, no.5, editorial (quoted in MPR 9:32)
Also in the Evening Standard, Hendon & Finchley Times, Kensington News, Kensington Post, and the Manchester Evening News, (quoted by Yorke, pp.272–75), and in Truth, the Church of England Newspaper, the Queen, the Universe, the Lady, the Jewish Chronicle, and the Daily Worker (according to Yorke, p.272, no dates given); in all 53 reviews.
b. Green Room Theatre, Manchester, 1958 (according to MG, in the Nottingham Theatre Group programme)
c. Cambridge Arts Theatre and Oxford Playhouse, one week each, by the Prospect Players,1962 (idem)
d. Lauriston Hall, Edinburgh (Edinburgh Festival Fringe), 16 August–1 September 1979, Nottingham Theatre Group, directed by Glen Kinch.
Scotsman, 18 August 1979, by Lindsay Paterson
MPR, Autumn 1979, no.9, pp.31–2, by Edwin Morgan
Also in Edinburgh Review, date not known
e. BBC tv, with Jack Ryder as Titus and Terry Jones as narrator, directed by Nick Copus. 5 February 2000.
f. Grand Theatre, Lancaster, 21–22 July 2006, by the Carabas Theatre Company.
Mr Pye – an island
MP’s adaptation of Mr Pye as a 30-minute radio play. Broadcast by the BBC on 10 July 1957, produced by Fancis Dillon.
Script printed in Peake’s Progress (pp.517–60).
Television cartoon, early 1950s. Not broadcast; printed in WD, pp.93–6.
Printed in Peake’s Progress (pp.383–443). Adapted for radio and broadcast for schools by the BBC in three instalments in May 1981.
It was given a rehearsed reading at the Blue Elephant Theatre, London, on 26 April 2011
First performed by the Blue Elephant Theatre, London, from 30 November to 20 December 2011, directed by Mhairi Grealis. (Brief video extracts have been posted on the web.)
The Stage, 5 December 2011, by Susan Elkin
A Younger Theatre, 6 December 2011, by Lori Hopkins
The British Theatre Guide, [December 2011], by Sandra Giorgetti
Printed as MPR 29, 1996. (See Part D)
Rehearsed reading at the Blue Elephant Theatre, London, 21 June 2009.
First performed in 2010 (19 Oct to 6 Nov), also at the Blue Elephant, directed by Aaron Paterson.
Remote Goat, 23 October 2010, by Giulia D’Amico
Running in Heels, 23 October 2010, by Katie Shellard
The Times, 23 October 2010, p.37, by Libby Purves
Daily Express, 26 October 2010, by Caroline Jowett
Time Out, 27 October 2010, by Andrzej Lukowski
The Stage, 28 October 2010, by Paul Vale
What’s on Stage, 28 October 2010, by Stewart Pringle
The British Theatre Guide, 1 November 2010, by Sandra Giorgetti
London Grip, 1 November 2010, by Barbara Lewis
Marcus Sedgwick 27 October 2010
Those Wicked Doctors: a
farce in three acts
Typescript sold at Bloomsbury Book Auctions, July 2000, and again at Sotheby’s in 2006. Printed in PS 10:i, October 2006.
- The Widowers,
or Four Old Men
Unfinished play; extant fragments printed in PS 10:ii, April 2007.
Unfinished play; extant fragments printed in PS 10:ii, April 2007.
Unfinished play; extant fragments printed in PS 10:iv, April 2008.
Unfinished play; extant fragments printed in PS 10:iv, April 2008.
Unfinished play; extant fragments printed in PS 11:ii, April 2009.
Loftus, or a Horse of Air
Complete and published in PS 14:i (October 2014) – free on this site.
Watney reported the sub-title as ‘A House of Air’ and I repeated his mistake right up to 2007 (thirty years!) when I was finally permitted to see the MS. It really is ‘A Horse of Air’ – a quotation from the early 17th-century ballad of Tom o’ Bedlam.
In a deleted draft of the play, there appears to be an alternative title and explanatory subtitle: ‘My Home, My Wilderness: a play to show conflict between instinctive belief and inner reality – and rationalism’ (Add MS 88931/3/3/1 at the British Library).
Mr Loftus was given a rehearsed reading at the Blue Elephant Theatre, London, on 27 April 2011.
a. Radio play, produced by Donald Holmes (who is reputed to have suggested the theme to MP). Recorded by the BBC in London on 29 October 1954, with Paul Scofield in the role of the artist. Also broadcast on the NBC (North America) at Christmas 1954.
b. Revised as The Eye of the Beholder (or The Voice of One) broadcast on the BBC Home Service on Tuesday 18 December 1956, 10.15–10.45 p.m. Printed in WD, pp.106–18.
A ‘superimposed’ version of the two plays, showing the differences, was printed in PS for April 2005 (Vol.9, No 2, pp.5–31).
in alphabetical order. All 1950s, precise dates not known.
One-act play, not printed. Amateur performance, Smarden 1952 (G). Does the MS or a TS still exist?
- Opera of Gormenghast
Fragmentary. Peake apparently wanted to interest Benjamin Britten in this project, but there is no record in Britten’s diary or papers of his ever having been contacted by Peake.
Incomplete sketch out of which grew The Wit to Woo.
Adaptations of MP’s work by others
The Rhyme of the Flying Bomb
a. Adapted for radio, with music specially composed and conducted by Tristram Cary, 26 August 1964, on the BBC Third Programme. Produced by Laurence Gilliam. ‘One of the happiest marriages of spoken word and music that the Third has yet produced’ (Glasgow Echo).
Repeated in Australia, on Sunday Night Radio 2, ‘in 1975 or thereabouts’ (David Chandler of ABC Radio Drama and Features, in 24 Hours, Vol.8, No.10, November 1983, p.7).
b. A new production (by Terence Tiller) with revised score, 9 August 1973, on BBC Radio 3.
The Mind’s Eye Theatre, New York.
‘Dramatic readings from the Gormenghast trilogy’, produced by Baird Searles. Recorded 9 February 1967.
‘Radio adaptation for the Pacific Foundation (a non-commercial station in California),’ 19 April 1969 (quoted from WD, p.11). The Pacifica Radio Archive lists an ‘adaptation of Peake’s play for radio’, produced by David Rapkin, on ‘1 reel (81 min.)’, 1967. Full details here.
This is presumably MP’s own adaptation, listed above under ‘plays performed’. The catalogue of the Eltham College 1969 exhibition (mentioned above) mentions broadcasts by KPFA, KPFK and WBAI radio stations.
Boy in Darkness
a. The Mind’s Eye Theatre, New York, 1967, a dramatic reading, directed by Baird Searles (recorded 9 Feb 1967).
b. Dramatic reading by Michell Taylor, recorded 7 Aug. 1968. On 3 reels, 158 minutes. Pacifica Radio Archives; details here.
c. Soho Theatre, 15 June 1971–??, adapted and directed by Paul Alexander.
d. LAMDA Theatre, Earls Court, 31 January 1975, with deaf actors, followed by a national tour which extended into 1976. Adaptation by the British Theatre of the Deaf, directed by Pat Keysell.
e. Performed by drama students (calling themselves Curious Directive) at The Zoo in the fringe of Edinburgh Festival, 17–22 August 2009 – ‘a peculiar cross-breed of physical theatre and puppet show’.
Original music in three parts with readings from Titus Groan in the interludes by an Australian group called Limehouse at the Kew Civic Theatre in Melbourne in July 1971. (Alan Stott leader, arranger, composer, sousaphone, bass; David Goldsworthy trumpet, kazoo; Tim Shaw reeds; John Sheldon trombone, vocals; Neil Orchard piano, jug; Brent Davey banjo, guitar, vocals; Cal Duffy drums, washboard; Colin Elliott (guest appearance) alto saxophone.) Brief excerpt on Youtube here.
Rhymes without Reason
Set to music for string quartet and mezzo soprano by Christopher Bowers-Broadbent; first performance at the Purcell Room, 24 March 1975.
Daily Telegraph, 25 March 1975, by A. E. P.
Financial Times, 25 March 1975, p.3, by Max Loppert
Coventry Evening Telegraph, 24 April 1975, by Mike Wyatt.
An interpretation of MP’s life and work by Nigel Paton, 11 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh Fringe, August–September 1977.
Scotsman, 30 August 1977, by Lynette Hunter
MPR 5:38 (Autumn 1977) by Edwin Morgan.
Musical by Medium Fair (Exeter), Torquay, March 1979. Produced by Baz Kershaw; adaptation by Peter Hulton; music by Gordon Jones.
Guardian, 22 March 1979, by Alan Saddler.
Merton Floats and E.T.C. Adapted and directed by Patrick Harbinson, Oxford Playhouse, 12–16 May 1981.
Repeated by the Oxford Theatre Group, under the same direction, at the Edinburgh Fringe, August–September 1982.
Scotsman, date unknown, by D. J. McLeod.
Titus Groan and Gormenghast
‘Gormenghast’, adapted and directed by Jonathan Petherbridge, Theatre Camel. Performed in Wales, May 1982, and cancelled soon afterwards, for copyright reasons. Reports in The Stage and Television Today, 29 April 1982, p.22; 6 May 1982, a review by Lawrence Garner; and 20 May 1982.
Adapted for ABC radio, Australia, by Michael le Moignan and Lawrence Lucas, produced by David Chandler, in six weekly parts, commencing November 1st, 1983.
Report in 24 Hours, Vol.8, No.10, November 1983, pp.6–7.
Repeated in four two-hour parts from June 10, 1986, on ABC FM Radio, Australia.
Groan and Gormenghast
Adapted for BBC radio by Brian Sibley and directed by Glyn Dearman, with Sting as Steerpike, 1984. Won the Sony Radio Awards for Best Dramatization and Best Production in 1985. Available as a BBC audio cassette.
Filmed for Channel 4 television and broadcast mid-1986.
Web’ Animated film of the Flay–Swelter duel, made by Joan Ashworth
at the (English) National Film and Theatre School in the mid-80s. Shown on Channel
4 television in 1987, it was called ‘a little gem’ by the Yorkshire
Post and it won the Mari Kuttna Award for the Best British Animation Film
of 1987. A still from it was printed in PS 3:iii, 18. Now visible on YouTube.
Adaptation for the stage written by John Constable for the David Glass Ensemble; numerous performances in Britain and in various countries throughout the world (under the aegis of the British Council) from January 1992 until early 1996. Much reviewed; a review from the Malaysian Sunday Star was printed in PS 4:iv, 43–45.
Revived and widely performed ten years later; more information and photographs in Mervyn Peake: the Man and His Art (pages 182–8).
Also performed by students at the University of British Columbia at the end of 2008, and by other groups around the world during the following years.
Adaptation by Duncan Fallowell, score by Irmin Schmidt, first performed in Wuppertal, Germany, in November 1998. The review by Rodney Milnes in The Times was reprinted in PS 6:ii, 53–54. Details from spoonrecords.com
Adaptation for BBCtv, produced by Estelle Daniel, directed by Andy Wilson, script by Malcolm McKay. Four-part serial, broadcast between 17 January and 7 February 2000. Available on DVD.
- Another ‘Gormenghast’
An adaptation of Titus Groan and Gormenghast written and directed by Sian Dudley was performed in the Donald Roy Theatre in the Gulbenkian Centre at Hull University, 18–21 March 2009.
- ‘The History of Titus Groan’ (radio play)
Adapted in six instalments by Brian Sibley from all three Titus books plus the newly published Titus Awakes. Radio 4, July 2011. (‘Best Adapatation’ in the BBC Audio Drama Awards, January 2012.)
The Independent, 14 July 2011, by Jane Thynne (‘Brian Sibley’s script retained a true flavour of the book’).
The Stage, 15 July 2011, by Moira Petty (‘the unmistakable stamp of excellence from the outset’)
The Guardian, 18 July 2011, by Sarah Crown (‘I haven’t read the books since my late teens, but this fine adaptation brought everything – Steerpike’s chilly treachery, Flay’s cracking knee-joints, the pitiful horror of Sepulchrave’s descent into madness after his precious library is burnt – pouring back’).
Radio Times, by Jane Anderson (‘Everything about this production – writing, direction, sound effects and casting – is absolutely spot on. It has done Mervyn Peake and his family proud, and shows that when radio drama is really good it can knock TV and film out of their financially-privileged comfort zone’).
Elizabeth Mahoney, Guardian, 16 August 2011 (‘really good writing, and an exceptional adaptation’).
- Uncle Jake: a homage to Mervyn Peake, 2011
A short stop-motion animated film directed by Stefano & Alice Tambellini, with music by Sofia Koubli. Peake’s nonsense poem, ‘When Uncle jake / became a snake’ is read by Dimitris Laskaris, while the images are all based on Peake drawings and paintings. A delight, all 72 seconds of it.
- ‘Gormenghast: Titus Groan’
Titus Groan adapted for the stage by Blackshaw Theatre, April 2012.
One Stop Arts, 13 April 2012, by Chris Hislop
London Festival Fringe, 13 April 2012, by Venetia Twigg
Remote Goat, 15 April 2012, by Rebecca Wall
Musical compositions inspired by MP’s work
Tim Souster: Titus Groan Music (wind quintet / ring modulator / amplifiers / two-track tape, with quotations from Titus Groan)
Commissioned by the Macnaghten Concerts. Performed by the Stockholm Philharmonic Wind Quintet at the Camden Festival, 1969. Further details.
‘The common factor of the piece and Mervyn Peake’s novel … is an atmosphere of ritual and grotesquerie: there is no attempt to create a programme’ — Robin Thompson in Tempo (New Ser., No. 89, Summer, 1969), pp. 21–22.
Titus Groan progressive rock group (Stuart Cowell – Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals; John Lee – Bass; Tony Priestland – Saxophone, Flute, Oboe; Jim Toomey – Drums) has a record called ‘Titus Groan’ (1970):
Track 2, Hall of Bright Carvings (11:37), divided into (a) Theme; (b) Dusty High-Value Hall; (c) The Burning, and (d) Theme.
Track 5. Fuchsia (6:18).
John Donaldson drew my attention to this site about it.
On Al Stewart’s record called ‘Zero she Flies’ (1970) there’s a track entitled ‘The Room of Roots’. On the sleeve there’s ‘thank you to MP for the adventures of Titus.’
A progressive folk album called ‘Fuchsia’ (Pegasus PEG 8) 1971
Tony Durant, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, was the creative force behind this album, along with Madeline Bland (cello, keyb’ds, vcls), Mike Day (bs), Michael Gregory (drms), Vanessa Hall Smith (violin, vcls) and Janet Rogers (violin, vcls).
Information adapted from Lost-in-Tyme, which adds that ‘the lyrics were influenced by English novelist and poet Mervyn Peake and supplemented by a lush violin and cello backing.’ Tony Durant has recently recounted the history of the album in a video interview that is on Youtube, ‘Fuchsia rough cut’ parts 1 and 2.
The album ‘Bursting at the Seams’ (1973) by The Strawbs has a song called ‘Lady Fuchsia’ composed and sung by drummer Richard Hudson and bassist John Ford.
Apparently never performed live. It is not mentioned on The Strawbs’ site.
Ens (NZ), album ‘Spellbound’ (1976)
Tracks inspired by the Titus books called ‘Stranger than fiction’ and ‘Titus’; the line ‘Stranger than fiction, larger than life, full of shades and echoes’ being lifted from the blurb on the back of Titus Groan. Further details.
Grant, ‘Despondent Nonsense’ (1979)
Medium high voice and piano. 8 minutes. ‘A perfectly proportioned miniature cycle of six songs, this should be very popular indeed with performers and audiences’ writes Jane Manning in New Vocal Repertory (OUP, 1999, p.146) and devotes the whole page to it.
Smith, The Cure: song entitled ‘The Drowning Man’, 1981
About Fuchsia’s drowning in Gormenghast: ‘She stands twelve feet above the flood / She stares / Alone / Across the water / … / Starting at the violent sound / She tries to turn / But final / Noiseless / Slips and strikes her soft dark head / The water bows / Receives her / And drowns her at its ease’. Further details.
on a Shipwrecked Sofa’
A musical about an eccentric family, adrift on the open sea, that discovers new life on a desert(ed) island, based on MP’s nonsense poems, with book and lyrics by James Milton and Polly Pen, score by Polly Pen, performed at the Vineyard Theatre, New York, May–June 1987.
New Yorker 63:17, 15 June 1987, by Mimi Kramer
- John Costello has a track called ‘Gormenghast’ (1988/9)
Found on Youtube. Can anyone tell me more?
Patterson, song cycle called ‘The Sorriest Cow of Capricorn’ (1990)
For soprano and piano, to words from the Book of Nonsense (‘Leave the Stronger’; ‘Little Spider’; ‘O Little Fly!’; ‘Crocodiles’; and ‘How Fly the Birds of Heaven’). No recording known. (Information from Edmund Milly)
Musical Times December 1992 (Vol. 133, No. 1798) page 644
- Irmin Schmidt’s 1991 album ‘Impossible Holidays’ has a track called ‘Gormenghast Drift’.
Taylor (the drummer of Queen), solo album ‘Electric Fire’ (1998)
The track called ‘London Town – C’mon Down’ contains excerpts from London Fantasy. The transcription here deviates substantially from Peake’s words.
Winwood and A N Other: song entitled ‘Boy in Darkness’ (date?)
See Ginger Geezer by Lucian Randall and Chris Welch (4th Estate, 2001; paperback 2002).
Rodney Bennett, ‘Nonsense: Seven Satirical Songs by Mervyn Peake’
(i.e. from A Book of Nonsense) performed by the New Amsterdam Singers in
New York on Wed. 28 May
‘sheet music’ in the catalogue of ‘World
Wide Music’ there’s ‘Six songs by Mervyn Peake’ for
solo voice and piano by R. Walker. No date. Can anyone add any further information?
- Nigel Hamway (composer), ‘Twelve Nonsense poems’, first performed in Manchester, 29 May 2009.
- The David Le page Trio performed a tribute to MP called ‘The Hall of Bright Carvings’ on 21 September 2010, as part of the Victor Hugo International Music Festival on Guernsey.
‘The music ... included new material by the trio’ (Guernsey Press, 22 Sept 2010, p.21)
- In Ekatarinburg, Russia, there’s Death Metal group called Gormenghast that released a CD titled ‘Resist or Serve’ in 2012. More here.
‘The Artist’s World’, a talk in the series called ‘As I See It’, recorded 29 April 1947,
broadcast by the BBC on the Pacific Service (26 May 1947) and African Service, (28 May 1947).
MP was paid 10 guineas for this talk (source: BBC Archives).
Text printed in MPR 8:3–5.
Reprinted in PS 12:ii (April 2011) pp.5–9, with a previously unpublished letter to MP from Kay Fuller.
See Part D (prose)
‘Book Illustration’, a talk in the series called ‘As I See It’, recorded 20 May 1947,
broadcast by the BBC on the Pacific Service (22 September 1947) and African Service, (24 September 1947).
MP was paid 10 guineas for this talk (source: BBC Archives).
First printed in Listener, 27 November 1947, Vol.38, No.983, p.926,
‘What Makes a Good Book Illustration?’ (illustrated), but incomplete. Full text, with notes and illustrations, printed in MPR 9:14–23. Reprinted in PS 12:ii (April 2011) pp.15–21.
See Part D (prose)
‘The Reader Takes Over’, participation in a round-table discussion of Titus Groan, recorded 20 June 1947,
broadcast six times by the BBC on the North American, Pacific, African (10–15 September) and General Overseas Services (2 December 1947).
For his participation in this round table, MP was paid 17 guineas, plus his return fares and a £3 overnight allowance (source: BBC Archives).
Text, with notes, printed in MPR 10:5–16.
Reprinted in PS 12:ii (April 2011) pp.27–41.
See Part D (prose)
‘Alice and Tenniel and Me’, a radio talk recorded 12 December 1954,
broadcast by the BBC Home Service on 12 December 1954.
MP was paid 15 guineas for this talk (source: BBC Archives).
Complete text printed in MPR 6:20–24.
Reprinted in PS 12:iii (October 2011) pp.4–8.
See Part D (prose)
is also a recording, made in England, of Jonathon Williams talking with Maeve
Gilmore (about English and American poetry) in the Pacifica Radio Archive, dated
1968. 1 reel, 42 minutes. No E2BB3456
Peake’s drawings and designs for the theatre (and a film)
The Insect Play, Tavistock Little Theatre, 25 & 26 November 1932 (W),
The Insect Play, Little Theatre, opened 23 June 1936 (preceded by three performances for members and friends on 20 and 22 June) and ran for at least three months; revived with the same cast at the Playhouse on 27 April 1938 and at the Duke of York’s Theatre, 4 July 1938, costume designs.
The programme bears a drawing by MP on the front, as does a leaflet used to advertise the play.
Observer, 28 June 1936, by Ivor Brown (‘Mr Mervyn Peake’s ingenious dress designs’)
Sunday Times, ?28 June 1936, by James Agate (‘Mr Mervyn Peake’s costumes could not be bettered’)
Theatre World, August 1936, vol.26, no.139, p.93 (with photographs: ‘These illustrations convey some impression of the eerie fantasy and strange fascination of the costumes’)
Bystander, 16 September 1936. London Mercury, August 1936, vol.34, no.202, reproduces two of the designs (see part D).
Sketch, 18 May 1938 (11 photographs of characters in the Playhouse production)
The Son of the Grand Eunuch by Charles Pettit, dramatized by Albert Arlen, Arts Theatre Club, January 1937,
London Mercury, February 1937, vol.35, no.208, pp.409–10, by A. V. Cookman (‘the costumes by MP, which are a continual delight, deserved a better play’). A drawing of ‘the Grand Eunuch’s costume’ is reproduced on p.409.
Man and Superman, King’s Theatre, opened 9 April 1946,
1 original drawing for the programme, reproduced in MPR 17:25.
In the first of the Painter and Poet series of films produced by animators John Halas and Joy Batchelor for the Festival of Britain, 1951,
visual interpretation of a poem – see Part C.
Treasure Island, 16 December 1974 to 11 January 1975,
eleven illustrations from B12 in the Mermaid Theatre programme of a dramatization of Treasure Island, with a cast that included Spike Milligan as Ben Gunn and William Rushton as Squire Trelawney.
Titus Alone, 1981 (posthumous),
wash drawing of figures on the poster for the Merton Floats performance mentioned above.
Other printed ephemera
An Exhibition of the Artist, Adolf Hitler. A new Order. 
‘A book of twelve drawings in the form of an exhibition catalogue, commissioned by the Ministry of Information for propaganda purposes’ (WD, p.45). [Not seen. In fact it is doubtful whether this booklet was ever actually produced. Several previously unseen pictures from this series were reproduced in PS 2:2 (Summer 1991) where the history of these works is examined in some detail. More were printed in Mervyn Peake: the Man and his Art (2006). For the history of this commission see Vast Alchemies, p.125, Mervyn Peake’s Vast Alchemies p.145–6]
‘Até que a morte nos separe’ [Until Death us do part]: a propaganda postcard, 140 x 90, depicting Hitler and Mussolini as a wedding couple.
[Possibly one of the drawings produced by MP when he worked for the Ministry of Information, starting in October 1942. The language suggests that this item was for S. America. Reproduced in PS 8:2 (April 2003).]
Two film posters for a 1944 Ealing Studios film, with Sidney Toler as Charlie Chan, 1944. One of them, reproduced on page 47 of Projecting Britain by David Wilson (1983) and in Film Posters of the 50s edited by Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh (London: Aurum Press, 2000), was shown at the Gillian Jason Gallery (42 Inverness St., London), 17–21 January 1984.
The other can be seen here.
Oil painting portraying a daughter of Sir John Walley, printed as a Christmas card, 1945.
Reproduced in colour in Mervyn Peake’s Vast Alchemies, p.16.
PEN Dinner Menu
Pen-and-ink drawing incorporating the menu for a PEN presentation dinner in honour of Hermon Ould, 6 March 1946.
Printed as the centre spread in PS 8:4 (April 2004), and in Mervyn Peake’s Vast Alchemies, p.219.
MP was commissioned to produce a series of drawings to accompany advertisements for pubs. According to the files of the Brewers’ Society, they were released on the following dates for publication in various periodicals. Examples we have located are given in parentheses. The complete set was reprinted in Peake Studies, vol. 5, no 1, pp.3–18.
1 December 1946, ‘There is nothing like a game of darts’
8 December 1946, ‘Cricket has long been associated with the inn’ (Country Life, 27 December 1946, p.1265; reproduced in Beer is Best (Part C), p.65)
15 December 1946, ‘Old Isaac Walton could write of inns as well as of angling’ (Country Life, 17 January 1947, p.196)
29 December 1946, ‘There is not upon earth so good a thing as an inn’
5 January 1947, ‘Much of the characteristic charm of English inns...’ (Poetry Review, March–April 1947, vol.38, no.2, p.ix; Punch, vol.212 no.5538, February 12, 1947. Half page, rear cover. Reproduced in Beer is Best (Part C), frontispiece.)
19 January 1947, ‘Bowls is as old as the 13th century’
26 January 1947, ‘The game of bowls was introduced...’
9 February 1947, ‘‘The noble art of venerie’, as hunting was called...’ (Punch, vol.212 no.5542, March 26, 1947. Half page, rear cover)
16 February 1947, ‘It is not generally realized to what extent pigeon-racing...’
23 February 1947, ‘‘...and all day this chap felt a nasty little pain in his back...’’
2 March 1947, ‘‘Shove-groat’ or ‘Shovelle-board’ was played by Henry VIII’
9 & 16 March 1947, ‘‘Jog on, jog on, the footpath way...’’ (Country Life, 11 April 1947, p.675; Poetry Review, May–June 1947, vol.38, no.3, p.xv; Punch, vol.212 no.5546, April 23, 1947. Half page, rear cover )
24 & 31 March 1947, ‘‘Your friends are my friends...’’
6 & 13 April 1947, ‘Stopping on a dreary day in Towcester’ (Punch, vol.212 no.5548, May 7, 1947. Half page, rear cover)
20 & 27 April 1947, ‘‘Some good stuff going tomorrow at the sale...’’
Advertisement for Jamaica rum, late 1940s.
An example may be seen in Picture Post, 20 August 1949, p.8; it was reproduced on the back of PS 5:1, and in Mervyn Peake’s Vast Alchemies, p.222.
Christmas card for Pearn Pollinger & Higham, 1950.
Reproduced on the back of PS 6:3, and in Mervyn Peake’s Vast Alchemies, p.12.
‘Ex Libris N. Asherson’, 1951.
MP designed a bookplate for Nehemiah Asherson, the ear, nose and throat specialist who treated his wife and children.
Reproduced in The Bookplate Society Newsletter, September 1983, vol.5, no.3, and in MPR 17:27 (with a commentary on p.26).
Gallery, spring 1962.
For an exhibition of paintings by Francyn (Cynthia Dehn, with whom MP had a desultory affair during the 1950s), MP wrote a 120-word encomium which was printed as a kind of foreword to the catalogue.
© G. Peter Winnington 2014
me of any corrections or additions I should make.
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