Authors: Thomas Love Peacock

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English novelist and poet

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Headlong Hall, 1816

Melincourt, 1817

Nightmare Abbey, 1818

Maid Marian, 1822

The Misfortunes of Elphin, 1829

Crotchet Castle, 1831

Gryll Grange, 1860


The Monks of St. Mark, 1804

Palmyra, and Other Poems, 1806

The Genius of the Thames, 1810

The Philosophy of Melancholy, 1812

Sir Proteus: A Satirical Ballad, 1814

Rhododaphne, 1818

Paper Money Lyrics, 1837


The Four Ages of Poetry, 1820

Memoirs of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1858-1862

The Letters of Thomas Love Peacock, 2001 (2 volumes; Nicholas A. Joukovsky, editor)


Thomas Love Peacock was born at Weymouth, Dorsetshire, England, on October 18, 1785. Although he associated with important early Romantic poets, he was not truly a part of the Romantic movement. Until his early thirties he wrote poetry that was intended to inspire readers as that of the Romantics did. His poetry, however, is unmemorable. Indeed, it is as a satirist of his age that Peacock is best remembered. An intimate of the Shelleys and of Lord Byron, but nevertheless a respected officer in the East India Company, Peacock in his novels pokes lighthearted fun at the foibles of his age.{$I[AN]9810000103}{$I[A]Peacock, Thomas Love}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Peacock, Thomas Love}{$I[tim]1785;Peacock, Thomas Love}

He was unsympathetic to the new ideas of the time primarily because he felt they went beyond reason–which is to say they were to him unreasonably romantic. Using the method of irony, he satirized radicalism, medievalism, and transcendentalism as well as individual romanticists such as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Headlong Hall began a series of successful “conversation novels” which follow the same plan: A group of eccentric guests at a house party reveal the folly of their romantic persuasions in witty talk and inane action. Peacock’s novels Maid Marian and The Misfortunes of Elphin are burlesques of legends, the first of Robin Hood and the second of the Welsh. The critic Saintsbury believed that the latter novel was the best, although Crotchet Castle has remained the most popular. The main purpose of all the works was, Peacock said, “to blow bubbles and then burst them.” Peacock died at Halliford, Chertsey, in 1866.

BibliographyButler, Marilyn. Peacock Displayed: A Satirist in His Context. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979. A first-rate study of Peacock which focuses not only on him as an individual but also on the society in which he lived and worked and his satiric abilities.Prance, Claude A. The Characters in the Novels of Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866): With Bibliographical Lists. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1992. An excellent dictionary of characters in Peacock’s works. Indispensable for the student of Peacock.Kiernan, Robert F. Frivolity Unbound: Six Masters of the Camp Novel. New York: Continuum, 1990. Examines Peacock in the company of Max Beerbohm, Ronald Firbank, E. F. Benson, P. G. Wodehouse, and Ivy Compton-Burnett.McKay, Margaret. Peacock’s Progress: Aspects of Artistic Development in the Novels of Thomas Love Peacock. Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1992. Chapters on Peacock’s poems and plays as well as on his novels. Provides good background information on the literary figures and movements Peacock satirized.Mulvihill, James. Thomas Love Peacock. Boston: Twayne, 1987. An excellent short sourcebook on Peacock, providing biographical background and sound context for each of his major works, as well as his essays and reviews.Sage, Lorna, ed. Peacock–The Satirical Novels: A Casebook. London: Macmillan, 1976. A collection of essays focusing on Peacock as a humorous writer.Schmid, Thomas H. Humor and Transgression in Peacock, Shelley, and Byron: A Cold Carnival. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1992. A study that focuses on the shared themes in Peacock and his Romantic friends, rather than their more usually emphasized differences.Tomkinson, Neil. The Christian Faith and Practice of Samuel Johnson, Thomas De Quincey, and Thomas Love Peacock. Lewiston, N.Y.: E. Mellen Press, 1992. Examines the religious literature of Peacock, Johnson, and De Quincey. Includes bibliographical references and an index.
Categories: Authors