Michael Richey: ‘My time at Piggots’

‘Dear John: I’m afraid my effort at explaining the significance of Maritain is a bit of a flop. Somehow I could not get the piece moving. In despair I have written an account of the two occasions I met up with him – once pre-war and once during it. Anno Domini?   Mike.’

This unposted card was found on Mike Richey’s desk after he died, together with the beginnings of the article he had wanted to write about the French philosopher Jacques Maritain, who had been such an influence on Eric Gill. Although the war had interrupted Mike’s ideas for entering a monastery at some point after working with Gill at Piggots from 1936-9 (see attached article), his tiny flat overlooking the sea at Brighton had something of a cell-like quality itself: a modest desk in the window alcove, the walls lined with shelves that contained titles from the St Dominic’s Press and others on seafaring and navigation, and a row of volumes inscribed by his friend Graham Greene; a sextant or two; wood-engravings by Eric Gill and some he had done himself at Piggots; souvenirs from Albania where he had spent part of his childhood; some David Jones watercolours; and the certificate from the Guinness Book of Records recording the solo crossing of the Atlantic he had made in 1997 aged eighty.

Mike’s second article for Matrix, A Hero’s Grave’ in 27, he said was his favourite of the three  he did for us, and in 28 he made a selection of letters from his lifelong friend René Hague, in ‘Letters from René’.

click image below to read ‘My time at Piggots’ which appears in Matrix 26