Complete Nonsense

Mervyn Peake

Carcanet Collection  

‘Nonsense’, wrote Mervyn Peake, ‘can take you by the hand and lead you nowhere. It’s magic.’ 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, a cake is chased across an ocean by a rakish knife, aunts become flatfish or live on sphagnum moss.


Fully annotated, with a detailed introduction, 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Nonsense contains all the poems and illustrations previously published in Peake’s Book of Nonsense (1972), with forty unpublished poems discovered in manuscripts and thirty from other uncollected sources, including all the nonsense verses from his novels.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, by Robert Maslen, editor of Peake’s Collected Poems (Carcanet), and Peter Winnington, the leading Peake scholar and biographer. Peake wrote of the rare art that ‘glitters with the divine lunacy we call nonsense’: Complete Nonsense glitters with Peake’s benign and wayward imagination.

  • IP authenticated access - no requirement to login with username and password.
  • Remote/EzProxy access for registered users off site, as well as Shibboleth authentication.
  • Fully searchable by keyword and using Boolean operators. Each individual page has a persistent URL.
  • Detailed statistical reporting provided in the administrator account.
  • Extensive linking including URLs, e-mail addresses, post codes and page numbers.

Subjects: Literature, Poems

IP Access

Seamless IP-authenticated access on a range of platforms including web, iOS and Android.

Fully Searchable

Advanced search including Boolean operators and cross-title matching.

Comprehensive Support

Enjoy high quality and prompt technical support from our dedicated team.

‘Nonsense’, wrote Mervyn Peake, ‘can take you by the hand and lead you nowhere. It’s magic.’ 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, a cake is chased across an ocean by a rakish knife, aunts become flatfish or live on sphagnum moss.


Fully annotated, with a detailed introduction, 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, by Robert Maslen, editor of Peake’s Collected Poems (Carcanet), and Peter Winnington, the leading Peake scholar and biographer. Peake wrote of the rare art that ‘glitters with the divine lunacy we call nonsense’: Complete Nonsense glitters with Peake’s benign and wayward imagination.

  • Author: Mervyn Peake
  • Editor: R.W. Malsen & Peter Winnington
  • Publisher: Carcanet
  • ISBN:

'...full of a fastidious author's joy in the sheer music of language, shot through with the sensitivity, melancholy and savage realism that sings in all his work.' 
A L Kennedy

Related Titles