Robert Gibbings

Life
1889-1958 [Robert John]; b. 23 March; son of Rev. Edward Gibbings, rector of Garrettstown, Co. Cork, soon afterwards Rector of Carrigrohane and later canon of St. Fin Barre’s [Finbar] Cathedral, Cork; his maternal grandfather was High Sherriff of Cork; ed. Fermoy, UCC, medicine; left university after period or enrollment for both medicine and art; studied at Slade, 1911-12; encouraged to take up etching by Noel Rooke; commenced designing book-plates, the first showed at RHA, 1913; enlisted [Royal Munster Fusiliers, 4th Batt.]; shot through the neck at Gallipoli, 1915; later in Salonika; stationed at Bere Island, Co. Cork, 1917; travels took him to the Pacific islands and Australasia; fnd. member of Society of Wood Engravers, 1920; proprietor-director of The Golden Cockerel Press, 1924-33, establishing his reputation as an author-illustrator; sold his share but continuing to illustrate; published travel works with Dent, and in paperback with Penguin; taught book production at Reading University; ill. Beasts and Saints, trans. Helen Waddell (1934); issued Iorana: A Tahitan Journal (1932); Noontime in Italy (1932); Coconut Island (1936); visited Bermuda, 1937; Blue Angles and Whales (1938), a ‘record of personal experiences above and below water’; Hon. MA, NUI, 1938; bult the Willow, a flat bottomed boat, for travelling on rivers, 1939; issued Sweet Thames Run Softly (1940); among eight other books on rivers incl. Coming Down the Wye (1942); Lovely is the Lee (1945); Sweet Cork of Thee (1951); AHRA, 1951; and John Graham, Convict (1937, rep. 1956), also those illustrated by himself, an account of the adventures of an Irish convict in Australia; collection held at Reading University; enjoyed reputation as bon viveur. DIB DIW KUN OCIL

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Works
Authored books, Sweet Cork of Thee [1951] (Cork: Mercier [rep. edn.] 1991). A True Tale of Love in Tonga, told in 23 engravings and 333 words (1935); Blue Angels & Whales: A Record of Personal Experiences Below and Above Water (1947); Over the Reefs (1948); Coming Down the Seine (1953); Trumpets from Montparnasse (1955); John Graham, Convict (1956); Till I End My Song (1957); Thoughts on Wood (1957), 7pp. [rep. of article in ‘The Saturday Book’, No.17].

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Criticism
Thomas Balston,The Wood-Engravings of Robert Gibbings (1950); Martin J. Andrews, The Life and Work of Robert Gibbings (Bicester: Primrose Hill Press 2003), 438pp., ill. [8pp. col. pls.] See also Theo Snoddy, Dictionary of Irish Artists: 20th Century (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1996).

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Reference
Frank O’Connor quotes from Cork in Book of Ireland, 1969, p.220; Bernard Share, Far Green Fields, 1500 Years of Irish Travel Writing (Belfast: Blackstaff 1992), selects Over the Reefs (Dent 1948).

Booksellers: Hyland Books (Cat. 214) lists woodcuts in A Tale of the Strange Adventure that Befell a Butcher from County Clare; The Beauty Spot, and a Tale Concerning the Chilterns (1932) [500 copies]. Emerald Isle Books (Cat. 95) lists Viscount Grey, Falladoon Papers (London: Constable 1926).

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