Radio : Portrait of Eric Gill

John Hudson's picture

I stumbled on this BBC radio archive programme this evening.

It was originally broadcast in 1961.

aluminum's picture

Great find!

John Hudson's picture

Stanley Morison's contributions are particularly entertaining. I had no idea that he was so excitable.

brockfrench's picture

Thanks for this.

1985's picture

Yes, thanks for sharing.

PJay's picture

Speaking of Gill and Morrison, there's a treasury of typographical history in 'A Poet in Walton Street' by Simon Nowell-Smith, and the collection of which it forms a part, "Essays Mainly on the 19th Century Presented to Sir Humphrey Ward", 1948, Oxford U Press. The article by Nowell-Smith primarily treats the printing history of Robert Bridges, poet laureate of England at the time. The poet and his wife superintended, exactingly, the typography of his books and Mrs. Bridges worked on a phonetic alphabet based on a half-uncial drawn in the 18th century. (She was also the author of "New Handwriting for Teachers".) Everybody who was anybody in the typographical scene of the early 20th century, including Edward Johnson, Logan Pearsall Smith, Bruce Rogers and D. W. Updike, has a walk-on in this relation, and the marquee fonts are there, too: the Fell types, Baskerville, Fournier, Centaur and Arrighi, Bembo and Blado.

William Berkson's picture

That was really fascinating, thanks!

Gill's devotion to honest work, his charm, his crankiness and his weirdness all come through.

Beatrice Warde talks about how she posed nude as a young woman for Gill. She modestly refers to her legs as interesting to Gill, but there is a provocative woodblock of her as a nude that shows his interest was more --er-- wide ranging. Gill wrote of her "fine American carcass" and she uses the same language jocularly without offense, though it sounds pretty dreadful.

Antonio Cavedoni's picture

“IM-POSSIBILE!” (Stanley Morison, 26m33s in the program)

PJay's picture

Detouring (I was going to say, 'deviating') from the topic of Gill, it's also noted in the Nowell-Smith article that Arrighi, which had lately been recut by Frederick Warde, was given a first trial in a collection of Bridges' poems, 'The Tapestry'. An edition of 150 copies was privately published in November, 1925, by Warde and Stanley Morrison. For this book the poet 'had prevailed upon Mr. Morrison to design an additional character in order to distinguish hard from soft 'g'.' This was a small instance of Bridges' use of special characters, a case of the poet's desire to bend the alphabet into serving his vocal intent.

If there isn't already a book on poets' experiments with phonetics, there ought to be one written.

Eric Gill designed and cut the dedication, "To the King', for a deluxe limited edition of Bridges' 'The Testament of Beauty'. It was printed in red ink. (It's seems minor irony [in view of Gill's politics] that Perpetua Italic seems to have become the go-to typeface for royal wedding invitations. It was used not only for the recent nuptials of Prince William, but also for Chas & Di.)

John Hudson's picture

A follow-up programme, broadcast in 1992, discussing the more contentious aspects of Gill's art:

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