Margery Jean Gill was born in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, on 5 April 1925, and brought up in Hatch End, London[1] after her father Oscar moved there to take a job at the Post Office Research Station developing the speaking clock.[2] She left school at 14 and took a place at Harrow School of Art. In 1946 she began studying etching and engraving at the Royal College of Art, married actor Patrick Jordan, and illustrated her first book, Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses, for the Oxford University Press.[1][3]

After a series of commissions for the Oxford University Press, Gill began an association with The Bodley Head, for whom she illustrated over thirty books between 1957 and 1982,[1] including Margaret Kornitzer’s 1960 novel about adoption, Mr Fairweather and his Family,[3] and books by Anita Hewett, Roger Lancelyn Green and others.[1] John Ryder, the publisher's design and art director, said her early work was "interfered with, rather than aided" by her background in etching and engraving, but as her drawings became bolder her work became more in demand, her serious, unsentimental view of childhood suiting the kitchen sink realism prevalent in children's books at the time.[2] She remarked "that is often how children are — taking their own lives seriously".[3]

Eleanor Graham, the founding editor of Puffin Books, also sought her out to illustrate books including a 1961 edition of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.[2] She worked for numerous other publishers, including Jonathan Cape, for whom she illustrated Susan Cooper's Over Sea, Under Stone in 1965, and Chatto & Windus,[1] for whom she illustrated Cooper's Dawn of Fear in 1972, drawing on her own memories of living in London during the Second World War. Cooper said of her work on Dawn of Fear, "She caught the image of the kids I was writing about perfectly, with no communication. That does huge things for the confidence of a writer."[2] She would often travel to capture the landscape and setting of books she illustrated, particularly those by Ruth Arthur and William Mayne, and for this reason a German publisher commissioned her to illustrate a German translation of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons.[3]

Most of of her colour covers in the 1950s and 60s were produced using the Plastocowell lithographic process, with two or more colours overlaying a pen and ink drawing. She started hand-colouring covers, apparently using coloured inks or watercolours, occasionally in the early 1960s, and by the 1970s was hand colouring almost all her covers, with notable exceptions being those for Ruth M. Arthur's books, for which she continued to use the Plastocowell Process as late as 1977. For interior illustrations she worked mainly in traditional pen and ink.

She combined freelance work as an illustrator with motherhood - she had two daughters - and a teaching job at Maidstone College of Art.[2] From 1969 she and her husband lived in Alphetonin Suffolk.[4] As the 1970s went on her work fell out of fashion as publishers preferred cartoonier illustrations for children's books, and her output was slowed by arthritis in her hands,[2] and in her later years, cataracts.[3] The last book she illustrated was Anne Thwaite's Pennies for the Dog in 1985.[2] She did voluntary work in her retirement, including charity collections and Meals on Wheels.[4] She died on 31 October 2008, survived by her husband, the older of their two daughters[2] (their younger daughter died in 1996),[4] four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.[2]

She was admired by fellow illustrator Shirley Hughes, who said "I thought her work was terrific. It made me look to my laurels. It was modern - the children she depicted were less sweet. Margery used solid black line with tremendous fluidity and ease: the way her children stood and moved was very distinctive."[2]

Books illustratedEdit

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

External linksEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Steve Holland, Margery Gill (1925-2008), Bear Alley, 18 December 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Matthew Weaver, Obituary: Margery Gill, The Guardian, 11 December 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Obituaries: Margery Gill: illustrator of children’s books, The Times, 17 December 2008
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Tributes to 'modest' illustrator Margery, 83, of Alpheton", Suffolk Free Press, 17 December 2008

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