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A. A. Gill

A. A. Gill

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Adrian Anthony Gill is a British writer who uses the byline A. A. Gill. He is currently employed by The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times (UK)
The Sunday Times is a Sunday broadsheet newspaper, distributed in the United Kingdom. The Sunday Times is published by Times Newspapers Ltd, a subsidiary of News International, which is in turn owned by News Corporation. Times Newspapers also owns The Times, but the two papers were founded...

as their restaurant reviewer and television critic and Vanity Fair magazine
Vanity Fair (magazine)
Vanity Fair is a magazine of pop culture, fashion, and current affairs published by Condé Nast. The present Vanity Fair has been published since 1983 and there have been editions for four European countries as well as the U.S. edition. This revived the title which had ceased publication in 1935...

as a restaurant reviewer. His essays are known for their humour and satirical content, but have caused offence to various groups, including the County of Norfolk, Welsh
Welsh people
The Welsh people are an ethnic group and nation associated with Wales and the Welsh language.John Davies argues that the origin of the "Welsh nation" can be traced to the late 4th and early 5th centuries, following the Roman departure from Britain, although Brythonic Celtic languages seem to have...

, Manx
Manx people
The Manx are an ethnic group coming from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea in northern Europe. They are often described as a Celtic people, though they have had a mixed background including Norse and English influences....

, Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

, Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...


Early life and education

A.A. Gill was born in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, the son of a accountant and his wife, actress Yvonne Gilan
Yvonne Gilan
Yvonne Gilan is an English actress who is best remembered for her portrayal of Mrs. Peignoir in Fawlty Towers.In 1964 she wrote a short fantasy film, The Peaches, starring Juliet Harmer, with a small cameo role for her son, Adrian as a bespectacled chess player...

, and brother to Nick. The family moved to the south of England when he was one year old. Gill was educated at the progressive independent school St Christopher School in Hertfordshire. He would later recall his experiences at the school for his book The Angry Island. After St Christopher, he moved to London to study at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design is a constituent college of the University of the Arts London. The school has an outstanding international reputation, and is considered one of the world's leading art and design institutions...

 and the Slade School of Art. He is a recovered alcoholic who drank until the age of 30. Gill suffers from severe dyslexia
Dyslexia is a very broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person's fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read, and which can manifest itself as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, or rapid...

 and, consequently, all of his works are written by dictation.

Career and controversies

He was once ejected from one of Gordon Ramsay
Gordon Ramsay
Gordon James Ramsay, OBE is a Scottish chef, television personality and restaurateur. He has been awarded 13 Michelin stars....

's restaurants, along with his dining partner Joan Collins
Joan Collins
Joan Henrietta Collins, OBE , is an English actress, author, and columnist. Born in Paddington and raised in Maida Vale, Collins grew up during the Second World War. At the age of nine, she made her stage debut in A Doll's House and after attending school, she was classically trained as an actress...

. Ramsay's reason was that Gill had written a review of his restaurant that covered his personal life more than the food, including calling him a wonderful chef, but a "second-rate human being".

Gill has been critical of Welsh people; in 1998 his descriptions of Welsh people as "loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls" in The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times is a British Sunday newspaper.The Sunday Times may also refer to:*The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times *The Sunday Times...

were reported to the Commission for Racial Equality
Commission for Racial Equality
The Commission for Racial Equality was a non-departmental public body in the United Kingdom which aimed to tackle racial discrimination and promote racial equality. Its work has been merged into the new Equality and Human Rights Commission.-History:...

 as racist
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

. Gill's comment was used as a prime example of what was described as "persistent anti-Welsh racism in the UK media" in a motion in the National Assembly for Wales
National Assembly for Wales
The National Assembly for Wales is a devolved assembly with power to make legislation in Wales. The Assembly comprises 60 members, who are known as Assembly Members, or AMs...

 put forward by 18 AMs representing the four main political parties.

Gill has also been critical of the English, describing them as "embarrassing" and an "ugly race" as well as a "lumpen and louty, coarse, unsubtle, beady-eyed, beefy-bummed herd".

In October 2009, Gill sparked controversy by reporting in his Sunday Times column that he shot a baboon
Baboons are African and Arabian Old World monkeys belonging to the genus Papio, part of the subfamily Cercopithecinae. There are five species, which are some of the largest non-hominoid members of the primate order; only the mandrill and the drill are larger...

 dead. His column averred that he knew "perfectly well there [was] absolutely no excuse for [the shooting]", and that he killed the animal in order to "get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone". He went on to state that "[t]hey die hard, baboons. But not this one. A soft-nosed .357 blew his lungs out." The action prompted outrage from animal rights
Animal rights
Animal rights, also known as animal liberation, is the idea that the most basic interests of non-human animals should be afforded the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings...


In September 2010, the Press Complaints Commission
Press Complaints Commission
The Press Complaints Commission is a voluntary regulatory body for British printed newspapers and magazines, consisting of representatives of the major publishers. The PCC is funded by the annual levy it charges newspapers and magazines...

 (PCC) made a formal judgement against Gill for referring to the sexuality of the BBC Sport
BBC Sport
BBC Sport is the sports division of the BBC. It became a fully dedicated division of the BBC in 2000. It incorporates programmes such as Match of the Day, Grandstand , Test Match Special, Ski Sunday, Rugby Special and coverage of Formula One motor racing, MotoGP and the Wimbledon Tennis...

 presenter Clare Balding
Clare Balding
Clare Balding is a BBC sports presenter, journalist and jockey.-Early life:In 1989 and 1990, Balding was a leading amateur flat jockey and Champion Lady Rider in 1990....

 in "a demeaning and gratuitous way". The Sunday Times disclosed Gill had been the subject of 62 PCC complaints in five years.
In February 2011, Gill described the county of Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

 as ‘the hernia on the end of England’, causing outrage across the East of England.

Isle of Man

His best known running feud however has been with the Isle of Man
Isle of Man
The Isle of Man , otherwise known simply as Mann , is a self-governing British Crown Dependency, located in the Irish Sea between the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, within the British Isles. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann. The Lord of Mann is...

 ever since his first review in The Sunday Times of 22 January 2006 of Ciappelli's restaurant in Douglas also included a critique of the island which, Gill wrote, had:
managed to slip through a crack in the space-time continuum...fallen off the back of the history lorry to lie amnesiac in the road to progress...its main industry is money (laundering, pressing, altering and mending)...everyone you actually see is Benny from Crossroads or Benny in drag...The weather’s foul, the food’s medieval, it’s covered in suicidal motorists and folk who believe in fairies.

This sparked off a minor diplomatic incident, the review being attacked in Tynwald
The Tynwald , or more formally, the High Court of Tynwald is the legislature of the Isle of Man. It is claimed to be the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world, consisting of the directly elected House of Keys and the indirectly chosen Legislative Council.The Houses sit jointly, for...

 with House of Keys
House of Keys
The House of Keys is the directly elected lower branch of Tynwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man, the other branch being the Legislative Council....

 member David Cannan demanding an apology for this "unacceptable and scurrilous attack", whilst Tourism Minister David Cretney claimed it would harm the island's tourism.

Gill made more comments regarding the Isle of Man continued in his Sunday Times column on 23 May 2010, when he described its citizens as falling into two types: 'hopeless, inbred mouth-breathers known as Bennies' and 'retired, small arms dealers and accountants who deal in rainforest futures'. His comments were made in the aftermath of Mick Jagger's suggestion that drugs should be legalised in the Isle of Man. Gill added that 'If...they [sic] become a hopelessly addicted, criminal cesspit, who’d care? Indeed, who could tell the difference?'.

Personal life

Gill's first wife was the author Cressida Connolly, daughter of the writer Cyril Connolly
Cyril Connolly
Cyril Vernon Connolly was an English intellectual, literary critic and writer. He was the editor of the influential literary magazine Horizon and wrote Enemies of Promise , which combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of...

. They later divorced.

His second wife was Amber Rudd
Amber Rudd
Amber Rudd is a British Conservative Party politician who was elected as Member of Parliament for the East Sussex constituency of Hastings and Rye at the May 2010 general election, defeating the incumbent Labour MP Michael Foster.Rudd is an alumna of Edinburgh University...

, a financial journalist and Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye, who appeared in his column as "The Silver-spoon". They have two children, Flora and Alasdair.

He now has a long-term relationship with Nicola Formby, editor at large of the Tatler
Tatler has been the name of several British journals and magazines, each of which has viewed itself as the successor of the original literary and society journal founded by Richard Steele in 1709. The current incarnation, founded in 1901, is a glossy magazine published by Condé Nast Publications...

, who appears in his column as "The Blonde". They have twins, Edith and Isaac, born in March 2007.

Further reading