Eric Gill Collection
Scope and Contents
The majority of this collection dates from mid 1910s to mid 1930s, a period that can be divided into three phases in Gill's life after his conversion to Catholicism: the Ditchling years (1913-1924), the Cappel-y-ffin years (1924-1928), and the Pigotts years (1928-1940). The collection does include small amounts of material dated as early as 1900, some materials dated after Gill's death, and some undated materials.
Materials from the Ditchling years include floor plans for the Gill's earliest residence at Ditchling village, Sopers, and its successor Hopkins Crank at Ditchling Common; copies of The Game, a little magazine by Gill and Pepler covering an eclectic mix of interests; and over two hundred prints and proofs from woodblocks that Gill engraved for St. Dominic's Press. These prints include calendars, greeting cards, catalogs, broadsheets and rhyme sheets, posters for local festivals and events, and liturgical works. Of special interest are also two small scrapbooks Gill kept during his time with the Royal Air Force.
Materials from the Cappel-y-ffin years include several dozen wood engravings; female nude drawings; and photographs of sculptures such as Deposition, Stations of the Cross for St. Cuthbert's Church in Bradford, and Mankind. A small number of pieces printed by St. Dominic's Press from this period are also present, including a series of small rhyme sheets and posters.
Materials from the Pigotts years include photographs of sculptural carvings; wood engravings, announcements and posters printed by Hague & Gill; drawings and designs, including those made for the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in the early 1930s; and examples of typefaces for the Monotype Corporation. Materials from St. Dominic's Press from this period include a collection of Christmas cards and posters.
Other items include miscellaneous materials related to Gill: displays of his typefaces, biographical essays, as well as exhibition checklists, catalogs, and other materials featuring Gill or his work. The collection also includes sheet music written in Gill's own hand, perhaps created to enable his own household to sing compline.
- Creation: 1898-2010
- Creation: Majority of material found in 1910-1940
- Gill, Eric, 1882-1940 (Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Biographical / Historical
Arthur Eric Rowton Gill, better known as Eric Gill, was born in 1882 in Brighton, Sussex. A craftsman with tremendous creative output, known foremost as a sculptor but also a notable engraver and typographer, Gill was the author of over 750 pieces of inscriptional lettering for memorials and headstones, hundreds of woodblock engravings, a large number of sculptural carvings, and a multitude of books and articles on topics that ranged from art and religion to workers' rights.
In the early 1900s, Gill lived in Hammersmith where he met Edward Johnston, who deeply influenced his approach to lettering and calligraphy. After converting to Roman Catholicism in 1913, Gill moved to Ditchling Common. He was followed by Hilary Pepler and other craftsmen including David Jones, Desmond Chute, and Joseph & Laurie Cribb; together, they formed the Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic. It was there that Pepler established the St. Dominic's Press, and where Gill acquired most of his practical knowledge about printing. Gill's relationship with Pepler became increasingly strained in the early 1920s, and Gill withdrew from the guild and departed from Ditchling in 1924. While the press had lost a key figure, Gill's departure did not prevent the continuation of printing at St. Dominic's Press.
Gill departed Ditchling to establish a new artistic and religious colony in the former monastery of Capel-y-ffin in South Wales. The Capel-y-ffin period saw the collaboration between Gill and Robert Gibbings who, along with his wife Moira, operated the Golden Cockerel Press. Gill would design typefaces and engravings for works like the "Song of Songs" and "The Four Gospels" that gave the press its reputation, as well as Perpetua (1925) and Sans-Serif (1927) typefaces for the Monotype Corporation. It was also at Capel-y-ffin that Gill met René Hague, who would later become his son-in-law and his partner in running the Hague & Gill press in Pigotts. By the time Gill left Wales in 1928, he had a reputaton as a leading typographer, sculptor, and engraver.
Gill's next move was to a farmhouse in Buckinghamshire, Pigotts. His Pigotts years were marked by more public commissions and activities, including the publication of numerous essays. A 1928 solo exhibition at Goupil Gallery led to an increase in publicity, including a mention in Stanley Casson's "Some Modern Sculptors" in 1929. He also began accepting large sculptural commissions, among the most significant being "Winds" and "Prospero and Ariel" for the new BBC Headquarters in London. During this time, he also designed the Joanna (1931) typeface and the illustrated letters for the Golden Cockerel Press's "The Four Gospels."
Eric Gill died in November 1940. His autobiography was posthumously published in 1941. The inscription on his tombstone reads: Pray for me / Eric Gill / Stone carver / 1882-1940.
12.5 Cubic Feet
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections holds a considerable collection of items relating to the work of Eric Gill, a 20th-century English craftsman. These include proofs and original engravings, drawings and designs, woodblocks, bookplates and printed ephemera. Notable among the collections are annotated drawings and designs; signed engravings; posters, leaflets, and other printed matter by the St. Dominic's Press; two scrapbooks Gill kept during his time with the Royal Air Force; and photographs of Gill at work.
Materials described in the finding aid are divided into the following series: A: Engraving; B: St. Dominic's Press; C: Carving & Sculpture; D: Drawing & Design; E: Sheet Music; F: Woodblocks; G: Portraits of Gill; H: Hague & Gill; I: Gill as Author; J: Related Materials; L: Correspondence; M: Miscellaneous; N: Golden Cockerel Press Related Materials.
Works that can be located in the library catalog, namely print books, are not included within this finding aid.
Other Finding Aids
- Eric Gill Collection
- Chaiyi Tsui and John Sherman. Revised 2018 by Erica Sestak.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Edition statement
- Updated to include Series O: February 16, 2023