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Sans Gill
Reclaiming Eric Gill's Lost Legacy

By Kate Ashton

Sans Gill - Kate Ashton

Proposed cover ('Pigotts Roads' by Eric Gill, with permission)

The first full-length treatment of the subject since the 1989 biography of Eric Gill, this memoir chronicles growing up during the final years of his settlement, some twenty years after his death, surrounded by known and lesser-known twentieth-century artists and craftsmen who still embraced his ethos. It is an insider’s story.

The English sculptor, letter designer, polemicist, lover, family man and friend Eric Gill (1882-1840) led an energetic and highly controversial sex life and, for more than thirty years since the last biography, has remained an extraordinarily divisive figure, his important artistic legacy largely overshadowed by controversy concerning his private persona.


A devout Catholic convert, Gill founded a communal way of living based on work as worship: a ‘cell of good living’. Here in the Buckinghamshire hills, alongside Gill’s widow Mary and their children and grandchildren, lived and worked the silversmith, the stained-glass artist, the printer, translator, writer, cartoonist and poet. Among the most famous names were those of the British composer Edmund Rubbra, novelist Rumer Godden, and Gill’s son-in-law, the printer and translator René Hague, along with his beloved lifelong friend, the poet David Jones.


This is the story of a richly simple childhood, and the lasting influence it has had on many of us. The legacy has been profound, as adulthood catapulted us into a world of increasing post-war consumerism, secularisation and loss of common values; of any sense of community.


Strongly influenced by creative, educated, equally empowered women and men who turned their backs on encroaching capitalism; used to the homemade, the beautiful and the humble, the child who grew up sensing the sacred nature of the world here documents her attempt to negotiate its subsequent metamorphoses with wonder and dismay.


Nostalgia, however, is found to be both unnerving and enfeebling, and utopia always ripe for rebirth.


Additional Information:

Seeking initial publication as well as Foreign Rights

69.164 Words

Rights: World (incl. World English)

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