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Brendan Gill

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Name  Brendan Gill
Role  Critic
Education  Yale College (1936)

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Died  December 27, 1997, New York City, New York, United States
Children  Michael Gates Gill, Kate Gill
Awards  Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada
Books  Here at The New Yorker, Late Bloomers, Many Masks: A Life of Fra, The portable Dorothy P, Guide to New York City Land

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Brendan Gill (October 4, 1914 – December 27, 1997) wrote for The New Yorker for more than 60 years. He also contributed film criticism for Film Comment and wrote a popular book about his time at the New Yorker magazine.

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Biography

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Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Gill attended the Kingswood-Oxford School before graduating in 1936 from Yale University, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. He was a long-time resident of Bronxville, New York, and Norfolk, Connecticut.

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In 1936 The New Yorker editor St. Clair McKelway hired Gill as a writer. One of the publication's few writers to serve under its first four editors, he wrote more than 1,200 pieces for the magazine. These included Profiles, Talk of the Town features, and scores of reviews of Broadway and Off-Broadway theater productions.

Brendan Gill Brendan Gill 19141997 by Granger

Gill shocked literary circles in 1949 with his brutally devastating review of the novel "A Rage to Live," by John O'Hara. "During the preceding two decades O'Hara had been The New Yorker's most prolific contributor of stories" (no fewer than 197 by one count). Gil disparaged his colleague's book as "a formula family novel" turned out by "writers of the third and fourth magnitude in such disheartening abundance" and declared it "a catastrophe" by an author who "plainly intended to write nothing less than a great American novel." More recent critics have called Gill's review a "savage attack" and a "cruel hatchet job." Thereafter, O'Hara quit writing stories for the magazine for more than a decade, and when readers complained to Gill for driving O'Hara away, Gill deflected blame onto another New Yorker contributor, James Thurber, for stirring up animosity. At a forum on O'Hara's legacy held in 1996, Gill stood up in the crowd to recall his attack on O'Hara nearly 50 years before, rationalizing it by pleading, "I had to tell the truth about the novel."

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As The New Yorker's main architecture critic from 1987 to 1996, Gill was a successor to Lewis Mumford as the author of the long-running "Skyline" column before Paul Goldberger took his place. A champion of architectural preservation and other visual arts, Gill joined Jacqueline Kennedy's coalition to preserve and restore New York's Grand Central Terminal. He also chaired the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and authored 15 books, including Here at The New Yorker and the iconoclastic Frank Lloyd Wright biography Many Masks.

Death

Brendan Gill died of natural causes in 1997, at the age of 83. In a New Yorker "Postscript" following Gill's death, John Updike described him as “avidly alert to the power of art in general.”

Legacy

Gill's son, Michael Gates Gill, is the author of How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else. His youngest son, Charles Gill, is the author of the novel The Boozer Challenge.

Offices held

  • Chairman of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
  • Chairman of the Municipal Art Society
  • Chairman of the New York Landmarks Conservancy
  • Vice President of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Books

  • The Day the Money Stopped (1957)
  • The Trouble of One House (1951)
  • Fair Land to Build in: The Architecture of the Empire State (1984)
  • The Dream Come True: Great Houses of Los Angeles (1980)
  • Lindbergh Alone - May 21, 1927 (1980)
  • Summer Places (with Dudley Whitney Hill) (1978)
  • Ways of Loving (short stories) (1974).
  • Tallulah (Tallulah Bankhead biography) (1972)
  • Cole Porter (Cole Porter biography) (1972)
  • New York Life: Of Friends and Others
  • The introduction to Portable Dorothy Parker (Dorothy Parker collection of her stories & columns) (1972)
  • Late Bloomers
  • Here at The New Yorker (1975)
  • Many Masks: A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright (1987)
  • Articles

  • Gill, Brendan (15 January 1949). "The Talk of the Town: Runaway". The New Yorker. 24 (47): 22–23.  I Can Hear it Now - album of speeches and news broadcasts, 1932-45 (with Spencer Klaw).
  • Gill, Brendan (4 February 1950). "The Talk of the Town: The Wildest People". The New Yorker. 25 (50): 21–22.  Transit Radio, Inc.
  • Gill, Brendan (4 February 1950). "The Talk of the Town: Improvisation". The New Yorker. 25 (50): 25.  Hiding telephone lines in the ivy at Princeton (with M. Galt).
  • Gill, Brendan (14 January 1985). "The Theatre: The Ignominy of Boyhood". The New Yorker. 60 (48): 108–110.  Reviews Bill C. Davis' "Dancing in the End Zone", James Duff's "Home Front" and Rodgers and Hammerstein's "The King and I".
  • Gill, Brendan (28 January 1985). "The Talk of the Town: Notes and Comment". The New Yorker. 60 (50): 19–20.  West 44th Street development.
  • References

    Brendan Gill Wikipedia


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