Gill, Eric

Arthur Eric Rowton Gill (22 February 1882-17 November 1940) was born in Steyning, Sussex, England. He attended the Chichester Technical and Art School and later moved to London to study to become an architect. While there he took courses in stonemasonry and calligraphy with the Westminster Technical Institute and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. In 1903 he left the architectural profession to focus on calligraphy, letter-cutting and monumental masonry.

Gill's first success as a sculptor came in 1912 while he was living at Sopers in Ditchling, Sussex with his wife Ethel Hester Moore (1878-1961). Gill and Moore had married in 1904 and moved to Sopers in 1907. In 1913 Gill moved to Hopkin's Crank at Ditchling Common and later that year Gill was commissioned to sculpt the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral.

After the First World War, Gill along with Hilary Pepler and Desmond Chute established The Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic, an artist's commune at Ditchling. Over the next ten years over forty people would come to live and work on the Common, which was grounded in Roman Catholic beliefs. During this time Gill and Mary had three girls, Petra, Joan and Betty and adopted one son, Gordian.

By 1924 Gill had moved to Capel-y-ffin, Wales where he established a new workshop. It was here that his work in typeface began, and in 1927 he cut Gill Sans, his most famous typeface.

In 1928 Gill wanted to move closer to London to be near his clients and moved to Pigotts at Speen in Buckinghamshire. From here he carved sculptures for the London Electric Railway, Marlborough College, Queen Mary College and the BBC's Broadcasting House.

Gill's other works include designing the first George VI stamp series for the Post Office and producing a bas relief for the League of Nations building in Geneva. He was also made Royal Designer for Industry and was a founding member of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry.

Throughout his career Gill also worked in woodblock cuts and created commissions for a number of personal clients as well as for private press editions.

Gill also founded or partnered in a number of presses, including Hague and Gill with his son-in-law Rene Hague and Saint Dominic's Press with others at The Guild of St. Joseph and St. Dominic. He was also heavily involved with Nonesuch Press and Golden Cockerel Press, providing prints for many of their works.

Gill died of lung cancer in 1940.