The deal was reportedly struck by FreemantleMedia, which fought a “hotly contested battle” to option the five books in the series from literary agent Jonathan Sissons at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop. FreemantleMedia has previously worked with Gaiman on his Starz fantasy drama American Gods.
The Gormenghast is a gothic fantasy series about the inhabitants of the gothic Castle Gormenghast, including Steerpike, a ruthlessly ambitious kitchen boy who drives the plot. The first book, Titus Groan, was published in 1946 and was followed by Gormesghast in 1950 and Titus Alone in 1959. A novella, Boy in Darkness, was published in 1956 and a fourth novel, half written by Peake and completed by his widow, was released in 2009.
“There is nothing in literature like Mervyn Peake’s remarkable Gormenghast novels,” Gaiman is quoted as saying in Deadline. “They were crafted by a master, who was also an artist, and they take us to an ancient castle as big as a city, with heroes and villains and people larger than life that are impossible to forget. There is a reason why there were two trilogies that lovers of the fantasy genre embraced in the Sixties: Lord of the Rings, and the Gormenghast books. It’s an honour to have been given the opportunity to help shepherd Peake’s brilliant and singular vision to the screen.”
An earlier TV adaptation, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, was broadcast by the BBC in 2000.