Bowden Oliver

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фото Bowden Oliver
Anton Gill was born in Ilford, Essex, the only child of an English mother and a German father. Both parents died in 1995. His mother taught English, Russian and Drama and his father was an engineer. His early infancy was spent in Bamberg, Germany. He speaks good French and German, and sketchy Italian and Spanish. He was educated at Chigwell School, Essex, (1960-1966), where he did a lot of acting and decided that he would go into the theatre. At Clare College, Cambridge, (1967-1970), he did more acting, and directing, ending up as President of the CU ADC (Amateur Dramatic Club) and several other drama clubs, as well as running his college’s Fine Art Society. He left with a 2:1 in English Literature with French and German subsidiary subjects. BA Hons. 1970; MA Hons. (Cantab.) 1973. While at Cambridge, he was taught to punt by Salman Rushdie, who became a great friend, and also worked in Cambridge theatre with David Hare.
From 1970 - 1976 he worked professionally in the theatre, principally as an Assistant Director at the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre, London, where he worked with, among others, Lindsay Anderson, Samuel Beckett, Ronald Eyre, Athol Fugard, Albert Finney, Billie Whitelaw, John Osborne and Anthony Page. He also wrote plays, one of which was performed at the Theatre Upstairs in 1973. He ran an Experimental Theatre in Geneva for a season in 1973 and did a ‘collective creation’ play about François Villon there, which he later re-wrote as a formal play. This was directed at the Cologne City Theatre by Hansgünther Heyme in 1975. Gill also worked with John Osborne on a season of his plays at Greenwich, 1974/1975, and on the premiere of Samuel Beckett’s NOT I at the Royal Court, 1973. Anton Gill’s one-woman play "Waiting" was put on by LA MAMA in New York in 1976.
From 1976-1978 he was a Drama Officer at the Arts Council of Great Britain, with special responsibility for new plays and trainee directors. He started to write for radio, and contributed a number of arts features and plays, including "The Man Who Wrote Shakespeare", a comedy starring Roy Kinnear and Peter Woodthorpe, and "Dandolo", starring Carleton Hobbs in his last role, a play about the Fourth Crusade. "The Berlin Resurrection" was a black comedy set in the Berlin Natural History Museum in the last days of the Second World War. Radio Features included a documentary about whales and whaling, "For the Whales", and a biography of Alexander Pope told through his letters, "The Spider's Touch. In 1976 Gill worked as a script editor for BBC Radio Drama, and from 1978-1980 he was a Senior Drama Producer with the BBC with special responsibility for the Radio 2 soap opera, Waggoners’ Walk". During 1981 he ran "The Archers" in Birmingham before resigning from the BBC in January 1982.
In 1981 and 1982 he directed radio plays for Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Hamburg; one of them was "The Man Who Wrote Shakespeare", which was also produced by Norwegian Radio, and elsewhere in Germany, and in New Zealand and Canada. In May 1982 Gill met Nicola Browne while on holiday in Egypt, and they married that November. The marriage ended in 1998. No children. Nicola and Anton have since both remarried, and remain the best of friends. After a brief period of freelancing, mainly writing and directing radio plays, adaptations and TV scripts ("Angels", "Crossroads" and "Emmerdale), he joined the TV-am breakfast television company in November 1982 and spent 18 months with them as a features producer, where among many other things he set up and produced their soap-opera, "The World of Melanie Parker". Gill resigned in May 1984 to become a full-time writer. The decision to do so was part accident and part design. Most of Gill’s work has been in the field of contemporary European history, but he has also written a series of thrillers set in Ancient Egypt, whose history has always interested him. What he enjoys most in his contemporary history work is tracking down and interviewing people who lived through and participated in the experiences his writing about. Conversations with them have formed the hub of much of his work.
When Gill is not writing his main occupation has, until recently, been travelling as much and as far as he can. He first travelled overland to India in 1967. In the 1980s, Gill travelled widely in India, Nepal, Thailand and Burma, as well as visiting Israel, Tunisia and Morocco, and the Seychelles. Before that he spent some time in Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan. In 1992 he was in Australia, and in 1993 he visited Mustang, an ethnic Tibetan ‘kingdom’ (it actually has a king, but is effectively under Nepali rule) in Northern Nepal, which had only been open to tourists since 1991, and about which he wrote for the adventure and travel magazine, "Outdoors Illustrated". The following year he and his wife took part in the first expedition to Nar-Phu, also in Northern Nepal, but unvisited by Europeans (and then only once) for 40 years, on which he also wrote for "Outdoors". One feature of that trip was attending a sky burial (the body is stripped and chopped up for the vultures). During the later 1990s, he travelled in Ecuador, Tanzania and Cuba; and in 2001 he spent some time on the Upper Amazon in Peru. Between 1998 and 2008, he travelled extensively in France and Spain. He has visited every capital city and country in Europe, and he’s also travelled in the USA (especially when researching two of his books, The Journey Back From Hell and "Peggy Guggenheim - Art Lover". (See the Booklist for details of these and other titles.)
Recently, Anton has visited Nambia, Costa Rica, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Estonia, and travelled the entire length of the Norwegian coast...
In 2007, he visited Ethiopia, and also spent some time during the period 2002-2009 making frequent visits to Venice. In recent years he has spent more and more time in France, a country he has been fond of since his first visit to Paris forty years ago. Gill has also written for SKI MAGAZINE about the Zen of skiing, on women’s life in dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu’s Romania, for "Woman", and about croquet for "Country Living". He has also contributed features (on subjects ranging from seventeenth-century explorers to the anti-Nazi resistance) to "The Times Higher Education Supplement".
He’s interested in whale conservation, and has been since long before it became fashionable – he has worked for Friends of the Earth as a volunteer, and remains a member of Greenpeace.
Outside work and travel, he enjoys are cooking, looking at paintings (from Giotto to Jackson Pollock and beyond), and playing the clarinet (badly). He paints a bit and draws cartoons, but only for his own amusement, as he’s pretty bad at them too. Gill currently lives in London and Paris, and, from March 2003 until recently, has spent most of his time in the French capital. His wife (since January 2005) is the actress, Marji Campi. The sons of her first marriage both live in Barcelona with their families, and Marji and he are frequent visitors there.


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