On Wednesday Evening, 6th March GMT, BBC4 television (available internationally as a Satellite Channel) will screen a one hour documentary entitled ‘The Epic Imagination’ as part of its series looking at the Popularity and Creation of Fantasy Literature.

This programme looks at the work of writers working in the 1950s, and will feature JRR Tolkein and Mervyn Peake, looking at how they created their fantasy worlds and how their lives influenced their creations.

Creator of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Oxford academic JRR Tolkein created a new language, Elvish as well as detailed maps that charted his fantasy landscape of Middle Earth. The visionary surrealist artist Mervyn Peake, created the Gormenghast trilogy’s oppressive castle of Gormenghast, populated by grotesque characters.

The programme goes on to examine how the lives and experiences of these writers fed into the magical worlds they created, from Tolkien’s service in the First World War to Peake’s childhood in Manchurian China and his witnessing, at first hand, as a war artist, the devastation of the concentration camps in Belsen.

With contributions from, among others, writers Joanne Harris, Kate Mosse, Tracy Chevalier and AS Byatt. Details of BBC 4’s Schedule are available here

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