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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Margery Gill (1925-2008)

Margery Jean Gill, the children's book illustrator who worked widely for Oxford University Press, Puffin Books, Bodley Head, Hamish Hamilton, Gollancz and others, died on 31 October 2008, aged 83, it has recently been reported.

Born in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on 25 April 1925, Gill's family moved to Hatch End when Oscar, her father, found work at the Post Office's Dollis Hill research station. Gill attended grammar school and, at 14, began studying at Harrow School of Art. In 1943 she met Patrick "Paddy" Jordan, a drama student, and they married three years later, by which time Margery was at the Royal College of Art. That year she had her first book illustrations—for A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson—published by the Oxford University Press.

She juggled working from home (a flat in Fulham Road) with raising her two daughters. Her work found a ready audience in John Ryder, design and art director at Bodley Head, who published much of her work over the next twenty-five years. She worked in pen-and-ink and, from 1960, in also colour. Eleanor Graham, the first editor of Puffin Books, the children's imprint of Penguin Books, was also an admirer.

In 1969, Margery and Paddy moved to a cottage in west Suffolk. Her neighbour, Matthew Weaver, then a young boy, was often used as a model for her illustrations. Writing in The Guardian, Weaver recalls:

I remember her as a woman who smoked and laughed a lot. She was neat and careful, and often rubbed her hands with glycerine to keep them supple. She sometimes asked me to pose for her, but only briefly, just long enough to work out a detail she had got stuck on. She was a perfectionist, but never precious or pretentious. She continually revised her work by scratching out lines with a scalpel. She would also throw lots of drawings away—a binman in Fulham had a collection of her work.

Gill survived breast cancer in the mid-1980s but retired from illustrating. She developed arthritis in her hands but, fortunately, Paddy was working regularly in TV (Accident, Angels, Crossroads, Coronation Street, The Bill, etc.). She continued to enjoy gardening and voluntary work.

Obituaries: The Guardian (11 December); The Times (17 December).

Illustrations

A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. London, Oxford University Press, 1946.
Concerning Carole Ann by Jacqueline Bennett. London, Oxford University Press, 1947.
The Treasure of the Isle of Mist. A tale of the Isle of Skye by W. W. Tarn. London, Oxford University Press, 1950.
The Peach Blossom Forest, and other Chinese legends, ed. Robert Gittings & Joan Manton. London, Oxford University Press, 1951.
Rough Water by Roland Pertwee. London, Oxford University Press, 1951.
The Village by Frederick G. Thomas. London, Oxford University Press, 1951.
Traditional Tales. Series 3 by E. Lucia Turnbull. London, Oxford University Press, 1953.
Adventures of Bill and Betty by Evan Owen. London, Oxford University Press, 1954.
Children of Moyinish by Esme Hamilton. London, Bodley Head, 1957.
Honey Mouse, and other stories by Anita Hewett. London, Bodley Head, 1957.
Mystery at Mycenae. An adventure story of ancient Greece by Roger Lancelyn Green. London, Bodley Head, 1957.
The Blue Day by Rene Guillot; trans. by Gwen Marsh. London, Bodley Heaed, 1958.
Golden Apollo by Phyllis Hastings. London, Hutchinson, 1958.
The Heavenly Carthorse by Esme Hamilton. London, Bodley Head, 1958.
Tell Me About the Saints by Mary Cousins. London, Hutchinson, 1958.
Bertram by Noel Streatfield. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1959.
A Hat for Rhonoceros, and other stories by Anita Hewett. London, Bodley Head, 1959.
More About the Saints by Mary Cousins. London, Hutchinson, 1959.
The Runaways by Alan Boucher. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1959.
Seven Days' Wonder by Elizabeth Denys. London, Collins, 1959.
The Study Book of Farming by Clifford Warburton. London, Bodley Head, 1959.
Three at Sea by David Severn. London, Bodley Head, 1959.
And Jesus Said... by Mary Cousins. London, Hutchinson, 1960.
Mr. Fairweather and His Family by Margaret Kornitzer. London, Bodley Head, 1960.
Mystery at Bracken Dale by Barbara Tutton. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1960.
The Snowbound Bus by Maribel Edwin. London, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1960.
The Study Book of Foods by Ella Northfield. London, Bodley Head, 1960.
The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley. London, Hutchinson Educational, 1960.
Dingle by Marie Marchand. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1961.
A Fly-Switch from the Sultan by Sir Darrell Bates. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1961.
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes. London, Bodley Head, 1961.
A Little Princess by Sara Crewe. Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1961.
The Luck of Troy by Roger Lacelyn Green. London, Bodley Head, 1961.
Sarabel. A doll of long ago by Moyra McGavin. London, F. Watts, 1961.
The Study Book of Gas by Eric Baxter. London, Bodley Head, 1961.
The Tale of the Turnip by Anita Hewett. London, Bodley Head, 1961.
Tom Tiddler's Ground. A book of poetry for children, ed. Walter de la Mare; foreword by Leonard Clark. London, Bodley Head, 1961.
Apple Bough by Noel Streatfiled. London, Collins, 1962.
Dragon Summer by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Hutchinson, 1962.
The Last Bus by William Mayne. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1962.
Poems by Walter de la Mare; ed. Eleanor Graham. Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1962; revised as Secret Laughter, ed. Eleanor Graham, Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1969.
The Story of Titbe & His Friend Mouffette by Barbara Bingley. London, Abelard-Schuman, 1962.
To Read and To Tell, ed. Norah Montgomerie. London, Bodley Head, 1962.
Barlasch of the Guard by Henry Seton Merriman. London & Glasgow, Blackie, 1963.
The Elsworthy Children by Anita Hewett. London, Bodley Head, 1963.
Fifty Favourite Fairy Tales. Chosen from the Colour fairy books of Andrew Lang, ed. Kathleen Lines. London, Nonesuch Press, 1963.
Meet Lemon Kelly by E. W. Hildick. London, Jonathan Cape, 1963.
A Parcel of Trees by William Mayne. Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1963.
Paulo and the Wolf by Alan Jenkins. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd, 1963.
The Village That Slipt by Monique Peyrouton de Ladebat; trans. by Thelma Niklaus. London, Bodley Head, 1963.
What Then, Raman? by Shirley Arora. London & Glasgow, Blackie, 1963.
A Day Without Wind by William Mayne. London, H. Hamilton, 1964.
The Gentle Heritage by Frances Eliza Crompton. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1964.
Lemon Kelly Digs Deep by E. W. Hildick. London, Jonathan Cape, 1964.
Sand by William Mayne. London, Hamish Hamilton, 1964.
A Thread of Gold. An anthology of poetry, ed. Eleanor Graham. London, Bodley Head, 1964.
The Study Book of Markets by Ronald S. Barker. London, Bodley Head, 1964.
What Did You Dream? by M. Jean Craig. London, Abelard-Schuman, 1964.
The Castle Family by Rosalie K. Fry. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1965.
The Castle of Yew by Lucy Boston. London, Bodley Head, 1965.
The Dark Tower. Tales from the past by Peter Vansittart. London, Macdonald & Co., 1965.
Four-and-Twenty Blackbirds by Edward Thomas. London, Bodley Head, 1965.
The Hidden Mill by Elisabeth Beresford. London, Ernest Benn, 1965.
Matty Doolin by Catherine Cookson. London, Macdonald, 1965.
Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. London, Jonathan Cape, 1965.
September Island by Rosalie K. Fry. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1965.
The Study Book of Money by Ronald S. Barker. London, Bodley Head, 1965; revised, 1969.
A Candle in Her Room by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1966.
The Old Zion by William Mayne. London, H. Hamilton, 1966.
Peter Climbs a Tree by Elisabeth Beresford. London, Ernest Benn, 1966.
This Little Pig Went to Market. Play rhymes for infants and young children, ed. Norah Montgomerie. London, Bodley Head, 1966.
Three Cheers for Charlie by Marjorie Sindall. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, 1966.
The Big Egg by William Mayne. London, H. Hamilton (Gazelle Books), 1967.
Looking For a Friend by Elisabeth Beresford. London, Ernest Benn, 1967.
Midway by Anne Barrett. London, Collins, 1967.
More Favourite Fairy Tales. Chosen from the Colour fairy books of Andrew Lang, ed. Kathleen Lines; epilogue by Roger Lancelyn Green. London, Nonesuch Press, 1967.
Requiem For a Princess by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1967.
Twelve Gold Chairs by Mary Cockett. Edinburgh & London, Oliver & Boyd, 1967.
The Youngest Storybook. A collection of stories and rhymes for the youngest, ed. Eileen Cowell. London, Bodley Head, 1967.
Australian Kaleidoscope, ed. Barbara Ker Wilson. London, Collins, 1968.
English Fairy Tales, ed. Joseph Jacobs. London, Bodley Head, 1968.
Portrait of Margarita by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1968.
Robin's Real Engine, and other stories by William Mayne. London, Hamilton, 1968. [omnibus; includes The Big Egg illus. by Gill]
What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1968; New York, E. P. Dutton, 1968.
The Wild Place by Mary Crockett. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd, 1968.
Doves and Pomegranates. Poems for young readers by Christina Rossetti; introduction by Naomi Lewis. London, Bodley Head, 1969.
Roundabout Ride by Robina Beckles Willson. London, Ernest Benn, 1969.
The Whistling Boy by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1969.
A Flock of Words. An anthology of poetry for children and others, ed. David Mackay; preface by Benjamin DeMott. London, Bodley Head, 1970.
The Big Wind by Delia Huddy. London, H. Hamilton (Gazelle Books), 1970.
Gordon's Go-Kart by Elisabeth Beresford. London, Benn, 1970.
The Saracen Lamp by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1970.
Come and Sing. A selection of Christian songs for under-eights, ed. Pamela Dowman & Elspeth M. Stephenson. London, Scripture Union, 1971.
The Little Dark Thorn by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1971.
The Orphans of Simitra by Paul-Jacques Bonzon; trans. by Thelma Niklaus. Leicester, Brockhampton Press, 1971.
The Pedlar's Cart by Elizabeth Coatsworth. London, Blackie, 1971.
The Story of Red-Deer by John William Fortescue. London, Macmillan, 1971.
Thalassine by V. Corrine-Renshaw. London, F. Warne, 1971.
The Weather Cat by Helen Cresswell. London, Benn, 1971.
The Anita Hewett Animal story Book by Anita Hewett; illus. with Charlotte Hough. London, Bodley Head, 1972; as The Puffin Book of Animal Stories, London, Puffin Books in association with Bodley Head, 1988.
Briar Rose: The Story of Sleeping Beauty by the Brothers Grimm. London, Bodley Head, 1972.
Dawn of Fear by Susan Cooper. London, Chatto & Windus, 1972.
Jane's Policeman by Helen Cresswell. London, Benn, 1972.
The Autumn People by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1973; as The Autumn Ghosts, London, Target Books, 1976.
The Bower Birds by Helen Cresswell. Tonbridge, E. Benn, 1973.
A Single Star. An anthology of Christmas poetry, ed. David Davis. London, Bodley Head, 1973.
Talking of Horses... by Monica Dickens. London, Heinemann, 1973.
After Candlemas by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1974; as Candlemas Mystery, London, Target Books, 1976.
The Bus Under the Leaves by Margaret Mahy. London, Dent, 1974.
Jack and the Beanstalk by Joseph Jacobs. London, Bodley Head, 1974.
When the Siren Wailed by Noel Streatfield. London, Collins, 1974.
Butterfly Chase by Helen Cresswell. Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1975.
On the Wasteland by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1975.
The Well at the World's End. Folk tales from Scotland by Norah & William Montgomerie. London, Bodley Head, 1975.
Mrs Flanagan's Trumpet by Catherine Cookson. London, Macdonald & Jane's, 1976.
Autumn Term by Antonia Forest. Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1977.
Go Tell It To Mrs Golightly by Catherine Cookson. London, Macdonald & Jane's, 1977.
An Old Magic by Ruth M. Arthur. London, Gollancz, 1977.
End of Term by Antonia Forest. Harmondsworth, Puffin Books, 1978.
The House Where Jack Lives by Margaret Crompton. London, Bodley Head, 1978.
The Cricket Term by Antonia Forest. London, Puffin Books, 1979.
Short Cut by John Denton. Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1980.
Catch by John Denton. Basingstoke, Macmillan, 1980.
The Nine Lives of Montezuma by Michael Morpurgo. London, Kaye & Ward, 1980.
The Legacy by Honore de Balzac. London, Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, 1981.
Suzy by Elizabeth Chapman. London, Bodley Head, 1982.
Pennies for the Dog by Ann Thwaite. London, Deutsch, 1985.

3 comments:

jinty said...

Is your list of her works intended to be a complete one? If so, I can certainly identify a number of books by Antonia Forest that Margery Gill illustrated and which are not on your list. I can't link to a comprehensive list of books, but she did the Puffin editions of Autumn Term, End of Term, The Cricket Term, and probably also the Attic Term (which I have in a different edition so am not sure).

I loved her work - sorry to see she's dead.

Steve said...

Hi Jinty,

Thanks for the additions.

Yes, the list attempts to be complete but these things are always difficult to compile. I'll see if I can dig out details of the Antonia Forest reprints and add them to the list.

Matthew said...

Well done on compiling the list. I didn't realize quite how prolific she was.