As the first novel opens, Titus, heir to Lord Sepulchrave, has just been born: he stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that stand for Gormenghast Castle. Inside, all events are predetermined by a complex ritual, lost in history, understood only by Sourdust, Lord of the Library. There are tears and strange laughter; fierce births and deaths beneath umbrageous ceilings; dreams and violence and disenchantment contained within a labyrinth of stone.
Mervyn Peake was born in 1911 in Kuling, Central Southern China, where his father was a medical missionary. His education began in China and then continued at Eltham College in South East London, followed by the Croydon School of Art and the Royal Academy Schools. Subsequently he became an artist, married the painter Maeve Gilmore in 1937 and had three children. During the Second World War he established a reputation as a gifted book illustrator for Ride a Cock Horse (1940), The Hunting of the Snark (1941), and The Rime of The Ancient Mariner (1943). Titus Groan was published in 1946, followed in 1950 by Gormenghast. Among his other works are Shapes and Sounds (1941), Rhymes Without Reason (1944), Letters from a Lost Uncle (1948) and Mr Pye (1953). He also wrote a number of plays including The Wit to Woo (1957), which was met by critical failure. Titus Alone was published in 1959. Mervyn Peake died in 1968.