British writer and artist Mervyn Peake penned his three classic Gormenghast novels in the 1940s and 1950s. Often called a trilogy and frequently published in an omnibus labelled as such, the series was actually incomplete. At various times Peake spoke of a number of books chronicling the adventures of Titus Groan from birth to death, and sometimes hinted at ten volumes in total.
As it happened, Peake began to suffer from Parkinson's Disease and struggled to complete the third book, Titus Alone, and was unable to satisfactorily work on revisions and edits for the novel. It was published in a somewhat unsatisfying form in 1959, although later, more complete editions were eventually issued. Some of these also included the first few pages of the planned fourth novel, Titus Awakes, which Peake had started working on before his condition rendered him unable to write. Peake sketched an outline of the rest of the book in 1960 with suggestions on how it could continue. His wife Maeve then completed the rest of the book, but curiously appears to have made no move to having it published before Peake's death in 1968, or her own in 1983.
Peake's granddaughter Christian discovered the manuscript at the Peake family home, handwritten in brown ink in four exercise books. The Peake family are now making plans to have the book published.
The Gormenghast books are some of the most beloved and highly-praised in the history of fantasy, often cited as formative works of the modern genre alongside the likes of The Lord of the Rings. The first two books, Titus Groan (1946) and Gormenghast (1950) were also made into a successful BBC mini-series in 1999 starring Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Steerpike.