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Spring-Summer 2020 MacDonald Gill Newsletter

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Since the last newsletter, a lot has happened, not least the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope that you are well and have avoided getting this terrible virus and have stayed sane in the lockdown. Inevitably, various Max-related events have been cancelled, including several talks for The Arts Society. Never mind, here are three books to keep you occupied during lockdown.

MacDonald Gill: Charting a Life

Finally! My long-awaited biography MacDonald Gill: Charting a Life has been published (Unicorn Publishing Group, 2020). I can’t quite believe it. I started researching Max in 2006 for a family history project and began writing in 2007, and over the years I’ve often been asked when it will be ready – I hope you will agree that it was worth the wait.

The book – which has a foreword written by map expert Tom Harper of the British Library – is over 320 pages long and has 270 illustrations. It covers Max’s life from birth in 1884 to his death in 1947, and tells the stories behind many of his key works including the Lindisfarne Castle wind-dial, The Wonderground Map of London Town, the mural for the RMS Queen Mary, and the alphabet for the Imperial War Graves Commission. It also details Max’s private life including his relationship with older brother Eric and his passionate affair with Priscilla Johnston. It’s a must for Max fans! Here are some sample pages to whet your appetite:

The book is available from June 1st at all major bookshops and online retailers. But you may prefer to order direct from the publisher, who is offering MacDonald Gill Newsletter readers a special price of £20 (cover price is £30). Just quote the code GILL at the checkout when ordering online at OR when you order by phone: 01273 812 066. If you order by phone, you can request a copy with a signed bookplate.

The official launch (a talk and book-signing at the London Transport Museum) has been cancelled due to the pandemic although the event may be rescheduled for the autumn. I’ll let you know of any developments about this and other future events by newsletter and on the revamped website. If you haven’t visited the site recently, do take a look – particularly at the larger gallery of images.

Sir Ambrose Heal and the Heal Cabinet Factory 1897–1939

Max Gill makes several appearances in Oliver Heal’s definitive book about his remarkable grandfather and his pivotal role in revitalising and leading the family furniture business. This fabulously illustrated large-format volume was the result of many years of academic research. Published by Oblong Creative, the book is now being distributed by Unicorn.

Edward Maufe

One of Max’s contemporaries was the eminent architect Edward Maufe, whose best known building was Guildford Cathedral. His granddaughter Judith Dunmur has just written a superb biography – Edward Maufe: Architect and Cathedral Builder. The book also spotlights the role of his wife Prudence, an extraordinary woman who was the ‘eye’ behind Heal’s furnishing business. It also contains references to Eric Gill, and to Max Gill who painted two wind-dials for Maufe. The first, in 1913, was for Kelling Hall, Maufe’s first country house design, and the second was for Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1926.

The Wonderground Map of London Town in Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago is highlighting a selection of works from past exhibitions. One of these is The Wonderground Map of London Town, which was one of the highlights in a show of London Underground posters at the Institute last autumn. The article features several close-ups of the poster alongside explanations of the jokes and pictures.

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