This is one of two delightful quotations from Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan in which the characters mention their need to think.  Here we have 15 year old Fuchsia, daughter of the Earl of Gormenghast, eccentric but saner than many of the adults around her, demand the sustenance she needs for a day of thinking. Her long-suffering tiny Nannie has heard it all before.

By the time the breakfast is delivered, she has lost patience and gone off to think with whatever scraps of food she had in her room.

This is an early example of breakfast being touted as an essential meal to ensure maximum performance. See also Tolkien’s definition of a fine, full breakfast to set you up for a journey, or George Eliot’s to set you up for the day. And in general all round praise of the breakfast hour, another Eliot quotation.

‘I want a big breakfast,’ said Fuchsia at last.  ‘I want a lot to eat, I’m going to think today.’

Nannie Slagg was scutinizing a wart on her left forearm.

‘You don’t know where I’m going, but I’m going somewhere where I can think.’

‘Yes, dear,’ said the old nurse.

‘I want hot milk and eggs and lots of toast done only on one side.’ Fuchsia frowned as she paused: ‘And I want a bag of apples to take along with me for the whole of the day, for I get hungry when I think.’

‘Yes, dear,’ said Mrs Slagg again, pulling a loose thread from the hem of Fuchsia’s skirt.

See also our bestellar review of this book, with its lavishly illustrated quote-mosaic, packed with fine phrasing and fresh metaphors.  


Source: Mervyn Peake,Titus Groan (London: Vintage, 1998), p. 59

Photo credit: RitaE at


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