Autograph Manuscript: 'Nonsence' [or Songs of Nonsense]

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 58 Add MS 88931/2/6/3
  • Alternative Id.
      (ark) ark:/81055/vdc_100000001202.0x000354
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 volume

Scope and Content

Contains fair copies of poems with minor revisions [probably from the late 1950s - see Mervyn Peake, Complete Nonsense, ed by R W Maslen and G Peter Winnington (Manchester: Carcanet, 2011), p.2]. Label on cover partly obscures old title 'The Parting of the Way'. Towards the back of the volume are later unintelligible fragments of writing (including fragments referring to Titus and the Countess of Groan) and detailed drawings of heads (inscribed 'The Priory' and dated 1965 or 1966 in Maeve Gilmore's hand).


  • ‘Lean sideways on the wind, if it bears’;
  • ‘Of pigmies, palms and pirates,’;
  • ‘An angry cactus does no good’;
  • ‘I cannot give the Reasons’;
  • ‘O little fly! Delightful fly!’;
  • ‘How fly the birds of heaven save by their wings?’;
  • ‘Leave the Stronger’;
  • ‘Fish or fowl, it’s all the same’;
  • ‘"Shrink! Shrink" said I’;
  • ‘An old and crumbling parapet’;
  • ‘It is most best,’;
  • ‘The hours of night are drawing on’;
  • ‘Over the pig-shaped clouds they flew’;
  • ‘Come, break the news to me, Sweet Horse’;
  • ‘What though my jaw be long and blue’;
  • ‘The trouble with geraniums’;
  • ‘O’er seas that have no beaches’;
  • ‘She stared at him as hard as she’;
  • ‘O here it is! And there it is!’;
  • ‘O Love, O death O ecstasy!’;
  • ‘I have my price - it’s rather high’.

Conditions Governing Access


Not Public Record(s)

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Materials: hard-bound volume

Dimensions: 216mm x 158mm

Foliation: ff.83

Condition: conservation work carried out by the Bodleian Library prior to acquisition by the British Library (paper repairs and custom-made hard-cover case). Case entitled 'Nonsense I'.