Eric Gill

Fiona MacCarthy, Author Dutton Books $26.95 (338p) ISBN 978-0-525-24735-7
An English artist-craftsman in the tradition of William Morris, Eric Gill (1882-1940) exemplifies the search for a lifestyle to heal the split between work and leisure, art and industry. He is remembered today for his fine engravings and stone carvings, his legendary typefaces and book designs for the Golden Cockerel Press. Yet there was another side to the man, downplayed by previous biographers: a fervent convert to Catholicism and leader of three Catholic arts-and-crafts communes, Gill had a hyperactive libido which extended to incest with his sisters and daughters, as well as numerous extramarital affairs, according to British writer MacCarthy. He rationalized his penile acrobatics by inventing a bizarre pseudoreligious theory. In MacCarthy's candid portrait, Gill, who preserved the outward image of a devout father-figure, was neither saint nor humbug, but a highly sexed creative artist trapped by his Victorian concept of masculinity. This charismatic firebrand was a renegade Fabian socialist, a bohemian friend of Augustus John and Bertrand Russell. His adventurous life, as re-created in this beautifully written, absorbing biography, is disturbingly relevant to our time. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Open Ebook - 978-0-571-26582-4
Paperback - 338 pages - 978-0-571-14302-3
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