8.3 The Game

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In 1916, Gill, Johnson and Pepler published the first edition of what was to be become an occasional magazine which they titled The Game and which they used to propagate their economic, political and religious outlook, reflecting the Distributist point of view. This was to continue until January 1923, a total 34 issues would be published which were divided into six volumes. There were around 200 copies printed of each issue which were distributed among their friends. Surviving copies are now much sought after.

The paper size was approximately 13cm by 18cm, the number of pages was variable, between 8 and 24.

Format and content

On the front page, under the title, was a Latin quotation. From Volumes II, III and IV it was taken from the Second Book of Samuel and is, per the King James Bible, translates as “Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God: and do that which seemeth him good;” (I Samuel 10:12). It may be possible that the expression ‘play the men‘ (i.e. be fearless) is the reason for calling the publication The Game. The Game in question is courageously standing up for their views. It has also been suggested that the title refers to the exuberance of the authors following their reunion at Ditchling. For volumes V and VI the Latin expression was changed to “actus sequitur esse”, meaning action follows being.

From the tenth issue onward, the cover would feature a woodcut, by Gill for issues 10 to 13 and then by David Jones. Particularly noteworthy are the covers for Volume V which all relate to the subject of the ten commandments, invariably accompanied by a short article on the commandment in question on the magazine itself. An exception was that there was no article on the commandment, ‘Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery‘, it would seem that, for once, Gill had nothing to say.

Gill however was more loquacious on the subject of the Song of Solomon, where he provided a five part article. Shorter articles generally appear to be the work of Pepler, including some strange contributions. For instance, in the June 1921 issue, Pepler (I presume) writes in approving tones about an Italian Fascisti mob who dragged a shopkeeper out of his place of business and paraded him around Florence for the supposed crime of overcharging on some of his products. A ‘Note on Divorce’ in the April 1921 issue, includes the extraordinary statement that ‘The adultery of the husband has no necessary effect upon the family, whereas that of the wife is necessarily destructive of family integrity’, this curious notion being based, I think, on the idea that an adulterous wife may not know who is the father of her children. I suspect this nonsense is down to Gill, always happy to conjure up excuses for his own conduct.

Generally though, the themes are more in tune with the known ideas of the Guild and Guildsmen – anti industrialisation, anti centralisation, pro worker independence. Sometimes there are debates arising from readers correspondence, and there is the occasional poem. Of particular interest is the September 1921 issue which announces the formation of the Guild; it also says that as from January 1922, The Game will become the official organ of the Guild, although in fact there was to be no mention of the Guild after November 1921. This article can be seen below:


Volume I

Volume II

Volume III

Volume IV

Volume V

Volume VI

Extract from St Dominic’s Press: a Bibliography by Brocard Sewell and Michael Taylor