Thomas Love Peacock is one the most unusual and little known authors of the 19th century. Peacock was born in Weymouth in 1785, his father died when he was very young and consequently he grew up at his grandfather’s house at Gogmore Hall in Chertsey.

Following the end of his formal education at the age of twelve, Peacock spent twenty or so years writing, reading and becoming acquainted with the leading authors of the day. He became very close to his mother, appreciating her sound judgement of his work. During this period, he became particularly good friends with Shelley, later acting as his literary agent, and ultimately as executor of his will.

It seems Peacock wrote mostly for pleasure, satirising his flamboyant contemporaries. His prose often took the form of the conversation novel, (for example, Nightmare Abbey and Crotchet Castle) in which the characters gather in a country house and over dinner express and attack each other’s outlandish ideas and opinions. Compromise or conversion to another’s viewpoint is rarely achieved since the characters’ highly eccentric natures make this virtually impossible!

In 1819, Peacock took up a post with the East India Company. Once on a stable income he quickly made a rather odd marriage to a woman he had not seen for eight years, to whom he proposed by letter! The couple had three daughters and a son. In 1823 the family moved to a house by the river in Shepperton and Peacock continued to work with the East India Company until his retirement in 1856. He died at the age of 81 in 1866.