Image of  Thomas Love Peacock


Lifetime: 1785 - 1866 Passed: ≈ 158 years ago


English Novelist, Poet



Thomas Love Peacock

Thomas Love Peacock was an English novelist, poet, and official of the East India Company. He was a close friend of Percy Bysshe Shelley and they influenced each other's work. Peacock wrote satirical novels, each with the same basic setting: characters at a table discussing and criticising the philosophical opinions of the day. 


Peacock met Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1812, and the two became such close friends that Shelley made Peacock executor of his will. Peacock spent several months near the Shelleys at Great Marlow in 1817, a period of great importance to his development as a writer. The ideas that lie behind many of the witty dialogues in his books probably found their origin in the conversation of Shelley and his friends. Peacock’s essay The Four Ages of Poetry (1820) provoked Shelley’s famous Defence of Poetry (written 1821, published 1840). 


Peacock considered his novels to be “comic romances.” Headlong Hall (1816), the first of his seven novels, already sets the pattern of all of them: characters seated at table, eating and drinking, and embarking on learned and philosophical discussions in which many common opinions of the day are criticized. 


In his best-known work, Nightmare Abbey (1818), romantic melancholy is satirized, with the characters Scythrop drawn from Shelley, Mr. Flosky from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Mr. Cypress from Lord Byron. 


Peacock worked most of his life for the East India Company. He was an able administrator, and in 1836 he succeeded James Mill as chief examiner, retiring on a pension in 1856. 

Books by Thomas Love Peacock

Headlong Hall Cover image

Headlong Hall

Fiction Novel
Social Class Short Works

Headlong Hall is a novella by Thomas Love Peacock, his first long work of fiction, written in 1815 and published in 1816. As in his later novel Crotchet Castle, Peacock assembles a group of eccentrics, each with a single monomaniacal obsession,...

To Mrs. De St Croix on Her Recovery Cover image

To Mrs. De St Croix on Her Recovery

Metaphor Tribute Nature Poems Friendship Witty Fortnightly

It is a charming and witty poem that celebrates the recovery of a dear friend. Written by the famous English novelist and poet, this work showcases Peacock's mastery of language and his ability to convey deep emotions through his writing. First publ...

Nightmare Abbey Cover image

Nightmare Abbey

Deep in the fens of the British coast sits the gloomy mansion that goes by the name Nightmare Abbey. It is inhabited by persons of very low opinion of the human race, and in fact they pride themselves in the depths of their detestation. Others of its...

Maid Marian Cover image

Maid Marian

To follow - Summary by Martin Geeson