Published 1st December 2015
Arthur Eric Rowton Gill (1882-1940) was an English sculptor, typeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker. Gill was born in 1882 in Steyning in Sussex and grew up in the Preston Park area of Brighton. He is a controversial figure who held strong religious views juxtaposed with questionable and dark sexual practice and the subject matter of his work often explored and depicted the erotic and taboo.
Gill initially trained as an architect but gave this up in 1903 to become a calligrapher, letter-cutter and monumental mason.
One of Gill's first independent lettering projects was creating an alphabet for WH Smith's sign painters. In 1925, he designed the Perpetua typeface, with the uppercase based upon monumental Roman inscriptions. He designed the Gill Sans typeface in 1927–30, based on sans-serif lettering, originally designed for the London Underground. In the period 1930–31 Gill designed the typeface Joanna, which he used to hand-set his book An Essay on Typography.
Gill died of lung cancer in 1940 and was buried in Speen churchyard in the Chilterns, near Princes Risborough, the village where his last artistic community had practised.
There are two wood engravings, or block prints, by Eric Gill in the forthcoming Picture Sale on 19th January 2016 . These are designs for the borders of an edition of The Canterbury Tales, published by Faber in 1934. The estimate for each illustration is £120-£180.