June 2022

Nursery Rhymes of London Town: A Miscellany of Poem, Picture and Anecdote

The Arts Society Maidenhead
Monday, June 20, 2022 - 11:30
Baylis Theatre
Braywick Leisure Centre Maidenhead SL6 1BN
Online Event

Caroline Walker’s talk describes this delightful book, written by Eleanor Farjeon and illustrated by the artist Max Gill.  

Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) was an immensely popular writer of her time best known today for her words to the hymn 'Morning has Broken'. She had 'a talent akin to genius' and used her 'perceptive wit' to create a host of much-loved children's stories and verse, topical satire, musical plays and biography. Published in 1916, Nursery Rhymes of London Town is a collection of whimsical verses that plays on the capital's place names including Highgate, Hammersmith, Richmond, Parson's Green and dozens more. The book was Eleanor's first major success and its instant popularity with both adults and children led to a sequel the following year. The book was also highly praised for its comic illustrations, drawn by the graphic artist MacDonald 'Max' Gill, younger brother of sculptor Eric Gill.


Mrs Caroline Walker

I've always been aware of my close family ties to the sculptor and typographer Eric Gill, a fascinating but controversial character. In 2006, however, a family history project drew me into an exploration of the life and work of his younger brother. MacDonald 'Max' Gill was an architect, mural painter and graphic artist, famed for his humorous pictorial map posters for London Underground and the alphabet he designed for the British military headstone.

Although my main profession has been English teaching, I now spend much of my time researching the Gill brothers and championing the work of the lesser known of the pair. I've co-curated numerous exhibitions including Out of the Shadows: MacDonald Gill at the University of Brighton and Max Gill: Wonderground Man at Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft. In 2016 I co-organised a series of events in the capital to celebrate the centenary of the author Eleanor Farjeon's delightful collection of verses entitled Nursery Rhymes of London Town and illustrated by Max Gill.

I've contributed articles to a range of publications such as Country Life, the TAS journal and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.  I've given talks for organisations including the National Archives, the Art Workers' Guild, Christie's, Friends of Kettle's Yard and the National Trust and was thrilled in 2016 to become an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society. I run the MacDonald Gill website and am the author of MacDonald Gill: Charting a Life.

Download the MacDonald Gill pdf

Download Eric Gill Early Years pdf

Download Nursery Rhymes pdf