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Graphion's Online Type Museum
Graphion's Online Type Museum
J. Gutenberg
W. Caxton
A. Manutius
W. Caslon
G. Bodoni
F. Goudy
E. Gill
J. Tschichold
B. Warde’s Crystal Goblet
Typographic glossary

Eric Gill

Eric Gill, stone carver, wood engraver, essayist and typographer, was born in Brighton, England, on February 22, 1882. His father was a curate and his mother a singer. Early in life, he displayed a talent for drawing and a keen eye for proportion, inspiring his family to enroll him in an art school in Chichester.

In 1900, his father apprenticed him to the architect of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. Shortly thereafter, he began to study lettering in evening classes with Edward Johnston. After three years, he abandoned architecture to start his own business in letter cutting and stone carving. In 1907, he joined an artists’ community in Ditchling, Sussex, where he had his first experiences with printing and typography. He entered the Roman Catholic church in 1913, for which he retained a great, if somewhat unorthodox, zeal throughout his life.

In 1925, Stanley Morison approached Gill with the idea of creating a new typeface for the Monotype Corporation as the expression of a contemporary artist. He began work on what would become known as Perpetua, and not long after that a sans-serif, to be called Gill Sans. Their release three years later caused some controversy, but they became an immediate success with the public. Gill Sans has in fact become the leading British sans-serif, sometimes being described as the “national typeface of England”.

Although he never considered himself to be primarily a typographer, over the course of his life he designed eleven typefaces of exceptional beauty and subtlety, and wrote a lengthy and influential Essay on Typography. He died of lung cancer on November 17, 1940.