William Morris by Frederick Hollyer, 1887
24 March 1834|
|Died||3 October 1896
|Occupation||Artist, designer, writer, socialist|
|Known for||Wallpaper and textile design, fantasy fiction / medievalism, socialism|
|Notable work(s)||News from Nowhere, The Well at the World's End|
William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the English Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional textile arts and methods of production in Britain. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre.
Born in Walthamstow, Essex to a wealthy middle-class family, Morris came under the strong influence of medievalism while studying Classics at Oxford University, there joining the Birmingham Set. After university he trained as an architect, married Jane Burden, and developed close friendships with the Pre-Raphaelite artists Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti and with the Neo-Gothic architect Philip Webb. Webb and Morris designed a family home, Red House in Kent, where the latter lived from 1859 to 1865, before relocating to Bloomsbury, central London. In 1861, Morris founded a decorative arts firm with Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Webb, and others: the Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. Becoming highly fashionable and much in demand, the firm profoundly influenced interior decoration throughout the Victorian period, with Morris designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and stained glass windows. In 1875, Morris assumed total control of the company, which was renamed Morris & Co.
Although retaining a main home in London, from 1871 Morris rented the rural retreat of Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire. With Eiríkr Magnússon he produced a series of English-language translations of Icelandic sagas, being profoundly influenced by his visits to Iceland. He also achieved success with the publication of his epic poems and novels, namely The Earthly Paradise (1868–1870), A Dream of John Ball (1888), the utopian News from Nowhere (1890), and the fantasy romance The Well at the World's End (1896). In 1877 he founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings to campaign against the damage caused by architectural restoration. Influenced by Marxism and anarchism, in the 1880s Morris became a committed revolutionary socialist activist; after an involvement in the Social Democratic Federation, he founded the Socialist League in 1884, but broke with that organization in 1890. In 1891 he founded the Kelmscott Press to publish limited-edition, illuminated-style print books, a cause to which he devoted his final years.
Morris is recognised as one of the most significant cultural figures of Victorian Britain. Founded in 1955, the William Morris Society is devoted to his legacy, while multiple biographies and studies of his work have seen publication. Many of the buildings associated with his life are open to visitors, much of his work can be found in art galleries and museums, and his designs are still in production.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career and fame
- 3 Later life
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Writings
- 6 Textiles
- 7 Legacy
- 8 Literary works
- 9 Gallery
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 Sources
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
William Morris was born at Elm House in Walthamstow, Essex, on 24 March 1834. Raised into a wealthy middle-class family, he was named after his father, a financier who worked as a partner in the Sanderson & Co. firm, bill brokers in the City of London. His mother was Emma Morris (née Shelton), who descended from a wealthy bourgeois family from Worcester. Morris was the third of his parents' surviving children; their first child, Charles, had been born in 1827 but died four days later. Charles had been followed by the birth of two girls, Emma in 1829 and Henrietta in 1833, before William's birth. These children were followed by the birth of siblings Stanley in 1837, Rendall in 1839, Arthur in 1840, Isabella in 1842, Edgar in 1844, and Alice in 1846. The Morris family were followers of the evangelical Protestant form of Christianity, and William was baptised four months after his birth at St. Mary's Church, Walthamstow.
As a child, Morris was kept largely housebound at Elm House by his mother; there, he spent much time reading, favouring the novels of Walter Scott. Aged 6, Morris moved with his family to the Georgian mansion at Woodford Hall, Woodford, Essex, which was surrounded by 50 acres of land adjacent to Epping Forest. He took an interest in fishing with his brothers as well as gardening in the Hall's grounds, and spent much time exploring the Forest, where he was fascinated both by the Iron Age earthworks at Loughton Camp and Ambresbury Banks and by the Early Modern Hunting Lodge at Chingford. He also took rides through the Essex countryside on his pony, and visited the various churches and cathedrals throughout the country, marveling at their architecture. His father took him on visits outside of the county, for instance to Canterbury Cathedral, the Chiswick Horticultural Gardens, and to the Isle of Wight, where he adored Blackgang Chine. Aged 9, he was then sent to Misses Arundale's Academy for Young Gentlemen, a nearby preparatory school; although initially riding there by pony each day, he later began boarding, intensely disliking the experience.
In 1847, Morris's father died unexpectantly. From this point, the family relied upon continued income from the copper mines at Devon Great Consols, and sold Woodford Hall to move into the smaller Water House. In February 1848 Morris began his studies at Marlborough College in Marlborough, Wiltshire, where he gained a reputation as an eccentric nicknamed "Crab". He despised his time there, being bullied, bored, and homesick. He did use the opportunity to visit many of the prehistoric sites of Wiltshire, such as Avebury and Silbury Hill, which fascinated him. The school was Anglican in faith and in March 1849 Morris was confirmed by the Bishop of Salisbury in the college chapel, developing an enthusiastic attraction towards the Anglo-Catholic movement and its Romanticist aesthetic. At Christmas 1851, Morris was removed from the school and returned to Water House, where he was privately tutored by the Reverend Frederick B. Guy, Assistant Master at the nearby Forest School.
Oxford and the Birmingham Set: 1852–56
In June 1852 Morris entered Oxford University's Exeter College, although since the college was full, he only went into residence in January 1853. He disliked the college and was bored by the manner in which they taught him Classics. Instead he developed a keen interest in Medieval history and Medieval architecture, inspired by the many Medieval buildings in Oxford. This interest was tied to Britain's growing Medievalist movement, a form of Romanticism that rejected many of the values of Victorian industrial capitalism. For Morris, the Middle Ages represented an era with strong chivalric values and an organic, pre-capitalist sense of community, both of which he deemed preferable to his own period. This attitude was compounded by his reading of Thomas Carlyle's book Past and Present (1843), in which Carlyle championed Medieval values as a corrective to the problems of Victorian society. Morris' dislike of contemporary capitalism grew, and he came to be influenced by the work of Christian socialists Charles Kingsley and Frederick Denison Maurice.
At the college, Morris met fellow first-year undergraduate Edward Burne-Jones, who became his lifelong friend and collaborator. Although from very different backgrounds, they found that they had a shared attitude to life, both being keenly interested in Anglo-Catholicism and Arthurianism. Through Burne-Jones, Morris joined a group of undergraduates from Birmingham who were studying at Pembroke College: William Fulford, Richard Watson Dixon, Charles Faulkner, and Cormell Price. They were known among themselves as the "Brotherhood" and to historians as the Birmingham Set. Morris was the most affluent member of the Set, and was generous with his wealth toward the others. Like Morris, the Set were fans of the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and would meet together to recite the plays of William Shakespeare.
Morris was heavily influenced by the writings of the art critic John Ruskin, being particularly inspired by his chapter "On the Nature of Gothic Architecture" in the second volume of The Stones of Venice, and later describing it as "one of the very few necessary and inevitable utterances of the century". Morris adopted Ruskin's philosophy of rejecting the tawdry industrial manufacture of decorative arts and architecture in favour of a return to hand-craftsmanship, raising artisans to the status of artists, creating art that should be affordable and hand-made, with no hierarchy of artistic mediums. Morris and the Set were also impressed by the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, which were then being championed by Ruskin. Influenced both by Ruskin and by John Keats, Morris began to spend more time writing poetry, in a style that was imitative of much of theirs.
Both he and Burne-Jones were influenced by the Romanticist milieu and the Anglo-Catholic movement, and decided to become clergymen in order to found a monastery where they could live a life of chastity and dedication to artistic pursuit, akin to that of the contemporary Nazarene movement. However, as time went on Morris became increasingly critical of Anglican doctrine and the idea faded. In summer 1854, Morris travelled to Belgium to look at Medieval paintings, and in July 1855 went with Burne-Jones and Fulford across northern France, visiting Medieval churches and cathedrals. It was on this trip that he and Burne-Jones committed themselves to "a life of art". This decision resulted in a strained relationship with his family, who believed that he should have entered either commerce or the clergy. On a subsequent visit to Birmingham, Morris discovered Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, which became a core Arthurian text for him and Burne-Jones. In January 1856, the Set began publication of The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, designed to contain "mainly Tales, Poetry, friendly critiques and social articles". Mainly funded by Morris, who briefly served as editor and heavily contributed to it with his own stories, poems, reviews and articles, the magazine lasted for twelve issues, and garnered praise from Tennyson and Ruskin.
Apprenticeship, London, and marriage: 1856–59
Having passed his finals and been awarded a BA, Morris began an apprenticeship with the Oxford-based Gothic revival architect George Edmund Street in January 1856. His apprenticeship focused on architectural drawing, and there he was placed under the supervision of Philip Webb, who became a close friend. He soon relocated to Street's London office, in August 1856 moving into a flat in Bloomsbury, Central London – an area then with avant-garde associations – with Burne-Jones. Morris was fascinated by London but dismayed at its pollution and rapid expansion into neighbouring countryside, describing it as "the spreading sore". Preferring rural life, Morris became increasingly fascinated with the Pre-Raphaelites and spent much money on purchasing their paintings. He soon met one of the foremost Pre-Raphaelite painters, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, after Burne-Jones became Rossetti's discipline; the three soon became close friends. Through Rossetti, Morris came to associate with poet Robert Browning, and the artists Arthur Hughes, Thomas Woolner, and Ford Madox Brown.
As Morris abandoned his apprenticeship, Rossetti persuaded him to take up painting; both he and Burne-Jones chose to do so in a Pre-Raphaelite style. Both Morris and Burne-Jones also aided Rossetti in painting the Arthurian murals at Oxford Union, although Morris's contributions were widely deemed inferior and unskilled. At Rossetti's recommendation, Morris and Burne-Jones moved in together to a flat at No. 17 Red Lion Square in Bloomsbury by November 1856. Morris designed and commissioned furniture for the flat in a Medieval style, much of which he painted with Arthurian scenes in a direct rejection of mainstream artistic tastes. Morris also continued writing poetry and began designing illuminated manuscripts and embroidered hangings. In March 1857, Bell and Dandy published a book of Morris's poems, The Defence of Guenevere, which was largely self-funded by Morris himself. It did not sell well and garnered few reviews, most of which were unsympathetic. Disconcerted, Morris would not publish for a further eight years.
In October 1857 Morris met Jane Burden, a woman from a poor working-class background, at a theatre performance and asked her to model for him. Smitten with her, they entered into a relationship and were engaged in spring 1858; Burden would later admit however that she never loved Morris. They were married in a low-key ceremony held at St Michael at the North Gate church in Oxford on 26 April 1859, before honeymooning in Bruges, Belgium, and settling temporarily at 41 Great Ormond Street, London.
Career and fame
Red House and the Firm: 1859–65
Morris desired a new home for himself and his wife, resulting in the construction of the Red House in the Kentish hamlet of Upton near Bexleyheath, ten miles from central London. The building's design was a co-operative effort, with Morris focusing on the interiors and the exterior being designed by Webb, for whom the House represented his first commission as an independent architect. Named for the red bricks and red tiles from which it was constructed, Red House rejected architectural norms by being L-shaped. Influenced by various forms of contemporary Neo-Gothic architecture, the House was nevertheless unique, with Morris describing it as "very medieaval in spirit". Situated within an orchard, the house and garden were intricately linked in their design. It took a year to construct, and cost Morris £400 at a time when his fortune was greatly reduced by a dramatic fall in the price of his shares. Burne-Jones described it as "the beautifullest place on Earth."
After construction, Morris invited friends to visit, most notably Burne-Jones and his wife Georgina, as well as Rossetti and his wife Lizzie Siddal. They aided him in painting murals on the furniture, walls, and ceilings, much of it based on Arthurian tales, the Trojan War, and Geoffrey Chaucer's stories, while he also designed floral embroideries for the rooms. They also spent much time playing tricks on each other, enjoying games like hide and seek, and singing while accompanied by the piano. Siddall stayed at the House during summer and autumn 1861 as she recovered from a traumatic miscarriage and an addiction to laudanum; she would die of an overdose in February 1862.
In April 1861, Morris founded a decorative arts company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., with six other partners: Burne-Jones, Rossetti, Webb, Ford Madox Brown, Charles Faulkner, and Peter Paul Marshall. Operating from a premises at No. 6 Red Lion Square, they referred to themselves as "the Firm" and were intent on adopting Ruskin's ideas of reforming British attitudes to production. They hoped to reinstate decoration as one of the fine arts and adopted an ethos of affordability and anti-elitism. For additional staff, they employed boys from the Industrial Home for Destitute Boys in Euston, central London, many of whom were trained as apprentices. Although working within the Neo-Gothic school of design, they differed from Neo-Gothic architects like Gilbert Scott who simply included certain Gothic features on modern styles of building; instead they sought to return completely to Medieval Gothic methods of craftmanship. The products created by the Firm included furniture, architectural carving, metalwork, stained glass windows, and murals. Their stained glass windows proved a particular success in the firm's early years as they were in high demand for the surge in the Neo-Gothic construction and refurbishment of churches, many of which were commissioned by the architect George Frederick Bodley. Despite Morris's anti-elitist ethos, the Firm soon became increasingly popular and fashionable with the bourgeoise, particularly following their exhibit at the 1862 International Exhibition in South Kensington, where they received press attention and medals of commendation. However, they faced much opposition from established design companies, particularly those belonging to the Neo-Classical school.
Morris was slowly abandoning painting, recognising that his work lacked a sense of movement; none of his paintings are dated later than 1862. Instead he focused his energies on designing wallpaper patterns, the first being "Trellis", designed in 1862. His designs would be produced from 1864 by Jeffrey and Co. of Islington, who created them for the Firm under Morris's supervision. Morris also retained an active interest in various groups, joining the Hogarth Club, the Mediaeval Society, and the Corps of Artist Volunteers, the latter being in contrast to his later pacifism.
Meanwhile, Morris's family continued to grow. In January 1861, Morris and Janey's first daughter was born: named Jane Alice Morris, she was commonly known as "Jenny". Jenny was followed in March 1862 by the birth of their second daughter, Mary "May" Morris. Morris was a caring father to his daughters, and years later they both recounted having idyllic childhoods. However, there were problems in Morris's marriage as Janey became increasingly close to Rossetti, who often painted her. It is unknown if their affair was ever sexual, although by this point other members of the group were noticing Rossetti and Janey's closeness.
Imagining the creation of an artistic community at Upton, Morris helped develop plans for a second house to be constructed adjacent to Red House in which Burne-Jones could live with his family; the plans were abandoned when Burne-Jones' son Philip died from scarlet fever. By 1864, Morris had become increasingly tired of life at Red House, being particularly unhappy with the 3 to 4 hours spent commuting to his London workplace on a daily basis. He sold Red House, and in autumn 1865 moved with his family to No. 26 Queen Square in Bloomsbury, the same building that the Firm moved its base of operations to earlier in the summer.
Queen Square and The Earthly Paradise: 1865–70
At Queen Square, the Morris family lived in a flat directly above the Firm's shop. They were joined by Janey's sister Bessie Burton and a number of household servants. Meanwhile, changes were afoot at the Firm as Faulkner left, and to replace him they employed a business manager, Warrington Taylor, who would remain with them till 1866. Taylor pulled the Firm's finances into order and spent much time controlling Morris and ensuring that he worked to schedule. During these years the Firm carried out a number of high profile designs; from September 1866 to January 1867, they redecorated the Armoury and Tapestry Room in St. James' Palace, in the latter year also designing the Green Dining Room at the South Kensington Museum (it is now the Morris Room at the Victoria and Albert Museum). The Firm's work received increasing interest from people in the United States, resulting in Morris's acquaintance with Henry James and Charles Eliot Norton. However, despite its success, the Firm was not turning over a large net profit, and this, coupled with the decreasing value of Morris' stocks, meant that he had to decrease his spending.
Janey's relationship with Rossetti had continued, and by the late 1860s gossip regarding their affair had spread about London, where they were regularly seen spending time together. Morris biographer Fiona MacCarthy argued that it was likely that Morris had learned of and accepted the existence of their affair by 1870. In this year he developed an affectionate friendship with Aglaia Coronie, the daughter of wealthy Greek refugees, although there is no evidence that they had an affair. Meanwhile, Morris's relationship with his mother had improved, and he would regularly take his wife and children to visit her at her house in Leyton. He also went on various holidays; in the summer of 1866 he, Webb, and Taylor toured the churches of northern France. In August 1866 Morris joined the Burne-Jones family on their holiday in Lymington, while in August 1867 both families holidayed together in Oxford. In August 1867 the Morrises holidayed in Southwold, Suffolk, while in the summer of 1869 Morris took his wife to Bad Ems in Rhineland-Palatinate, central Germany, where it was hoped that the local health waters would aid her ailments. While there, he enjoyed walks in the countryside and focused on writing poetry.
Morris had continued to devote much time to writing poetry. In 1867 Bell and Dandy published Morris's epic poem, The Life and Death of Jason, at his own expense. The book was a retelling of the ancient Greek myth of the hero Jason and his quest to find the Golden Fleece. In contrast to Morris's former publication, The Life and Death of Jason was well received, resulting in the publishers paying Morris a fee for the second edition. From 1865 to 1870, Morris worked on another epic poem, The Earthly Paradise. Designed as a homage to Chaucer, it consisted of 24 stories, adopted from an array of different cultures, and each by a different narrator; set in the late 14th century, the synopsis revolved around a group of Norsemen who flee the Black Death by sailing away from Europe, on the way discovering an island where the inhabitants continue to venerate the ancient Greek gods. Published in four parts by F. S. Ellis, it soon gained a cult following and established Morris' reputation as a major poet.
Kelmscott Manor and Iceland: 1870–75
By 1870, Morris had become a public figure in Britain, resulting in repeated press requests for photographs, which he despised. That year, he also reluctantly agreed to sit for a portrait by establishment painter George Frederic Watts. Morris was keenly interested in Icelandic literature, having befriended the Icelandic theologian Eiríkr Magnússon. Together they produced prose translations of the Eddas and Sagas for publication in English. Morris also developed a keen interest in creating hand-written illuminated manuscripts, producing 18 such books between 1870 and 1875, the first of which was A Book of Verse, completed as a birthday present for Georgina Burne-Jones. 12 of these 18 were handwritten copies of Nordic tales such as Halfden the Black, Frithiof the Bold, and The Dwellers of Eyr. Morris deemed calligraphy to be an art form, and taught himself both Roman and italic script, as well as learning how to produce gilded letters. In November 1872 he published Love is Enough, a poetic drama based on a story in the Medieval Welsh text, the Mabinogion. Illustrated with Burne-Jones woodcuts, it was not a popular success. By 1871, he had begun work on a novel set in the present, The Novel on Blue Paper, which was about a love triangle; it would remain unfinished and Morris later asserted that it was not well written.
By early summer 1871, Morris began to search for a house outside of London where his children could spend time away from the city's pollution. He settled on Kelmscott Manor in the village of Kelmscott, Oxfordshire, obtaining a joint tenancy on the building with Rossetti in June. Morris adored the building, which was constructed circa 1570, and would spend much time in the local countryside. Conversely, Rossetti would be unhappy at Kelmscott, and eventually suffered a mental breakdown. Morris divided his time between London and Kelmscott, however when Rossetti was there he would not spend more than three days at a time at the latter. He was also fed up with his family home in Queen Square, deciding to obtain a new house in London. Although retaining a personal bedroom and study at Queen Square, he relocated his family to Horrington House in Turnham Green Road, West London, in January 1873. This allowed him to be far closer to the home of Burne-Jones, with the duo meeting on almost every Sunday morning for the rest of Morris' life.
Leaving Jane and his children with Rossetti at Kelmscott, in July 1871 Morris left for Iceland with Faulkner, W.H. Evans, and Magnússon. Sailing from the Scottish port of Granton aboard a Danish mail boat, they proceeded to the island via Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands before arriving at Reykjavik, where they disembarked. There they met the President of the Althing, Jón Sigurðsson, with Morris being sympathetic to the Icelandic independence movement. From there, they proceeded by pony along the south coast to Bergþórshvoll, Thórsmörk, Geysir, Þingvellir, and then back to Reyjkavik, where they departed back to Britain in September. In April 1873, Morris and Burne-Jones holidayed in Italy, visiting Florence and Siena. Although generally disliking the country, Morris was interested in the Florentine Gothic architecture. Soon after, in July, Morris returned to Iceland, revisiting many of the sites he had previously seen, but then proceeding north to Varna glacier and Fljótsdalur. His two visits to the country profoundly influenced him, in particular in his growing leftist opinions; he would comment that these trips made him realise that "the most grinding poverty is a trifling evil compared with the inequality of classes."
Morris and Burne-Jones then spent time with one of the Firm's patrons, the wealthy George Howard, 9th Earl of Carlisle and his wife Rosalind, at their Medieval home in Naworth Castle, Cumberland. In July 1874, the Morris family then took Burne-Jones' two children with them on their holiday to Bruges, Belgium. However, by this point Morris' friendship with Rossetti had seriously eroded, and in July 1874 their acrimonious falling out led Rossetti to leave Kelmscott, with Morris' publisher F.S. Ellis taking his place. With the company's other partners drifting off to work on other projects, Morris decided to consolidate his own control of the Firm and become sole proprietor and manager. In March 1875, he paid £1000 each in compensation to Rossetti, Brown, and Marshall, although the other partners waived their claims to financial compensation. That month, the Firm was officially disbanded and replaced by Morris & Co, although Burne-Jones and Webb would continue to produce designs for it in future. This accomplished, he resigned his directorship of the Devon Great Consols, selling his remaining shares in the company.
Textile experimentation and political embrace: 1875–80
Now in complete control of the Firm, Morris took an increased interest in the process of textile dyeing and entered into a co-operative agreement with Thomas Wardle, a silk dyer who operated the Hencroft Works in Leek, Staffordshire. As a result, Morris would spend time with Wardle at his home on various occasions between summer 1875 and spring 1878. Deeming the colours to be of inferior quality, Morris rejected the chemical aniline dyes which were then predominant, instead emphasising the revival of organic dyes, such as indigo for blue, walnut shells and roots for brown, and cochineal, kermes, and madder for red. Living and working in this industrial environment, he gained a personal understanding of production and the lives of the proletariat, and was disgusted by the poor living conditions of workers and the pollution caused by industry; these factors greatly influenced his political views. After learning the skills of dyeing, in the late 1870s Morris turned his attention to weaving, experimenting with silk weaving at Queen's Square.
In the Spring of 1877, the Firm opened a store in Oxford Street and obtained new staff who were able to improve its professionalism; as a result, sales increased and its popularity grew. By 1880, Morris & Co. had become a household name, having become very popular with Britain's upper and middle classes. The Firm was obtaining increasing numbers of commissions from aristocrats, wealthy industralists, and provincial entrepeneurs, with Morris furnishing parts of St. James' Palace and the chapel at Eaton Hall. As a result of his growing sympathy for the working-classes and poor, Morris felt personally conflicted in serving the interests of these individuals, privately describing it as "ministering to the swinish luxury of the rich".
Continuing with his literary output, Morris translated his own version of Virgil's Aeneid, titling it The Aeneids of Vergil (1876). Although many translations were already available, often produced by trained Classicists, Morris claimed that his unique perspective was as "a poet not a pedant". He also continued producing translations of Icelandic tales with Magnússon, including Three Northern Love Stories (1875) and Völuspa Saga (1876). In 1877 Morris was approached by Oxford University and offered the largely honorary position of Professor of Poetry. He declined, asserting that he felt unqualified, knowing little about scholarship on the theory of poetry.
In summer 1876 Jenny Morris was diagnosed with epilepsy. Refusing to allow her to be societally marginalised or institutionalised, as was common in the period, Morris insisted that she be cared for by the family. When Janey took May and Jenny to Oneglia in Italy, the latter suffered a serious seizure, with Morris rushing to the country to see her. They then proceeded to visit a number of other cities, including Venice, Padua, and Verona, with Morris attaining a greater appreciation of the country than he had on his previous trip. In April 1879 Morris moved the family home again, this time renting an 18th century mansion on Hammersmith's Upper Mall in West London. Owned by the novelist George MacDonald, Morris would name it Kelmscott House and re-decorate it according to his own taste. In the House's grounds he set up a workshop, focusing on the production of hand-knotted carpets. Excited that both of his homes were along the course of the River Thames, in August 1880 he and his family took a boat trip along the river from Kelmscott House to Kelmscott Manor.
Morris became politically active in this period, coming to be associated with the radicalist current within British liberalism. He joined the Eastern Question Association (EQA) and was appointed the group's treasurer in November 1876. EQA had been founded by campaigners associated with the centre-left Liberal Party who opposed Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli's alliance with the Ottoman Empire; the Association highlighted the Ottoman massacre of Bulgarians and feared that the alliance would lead Disraeli to join the Ottomans in going to war with the Russian Empire. Morris took an active role in the EQA campaign, authoring the lyrics for the song "Wake, London Lads!" to be sung at a rally against military intervention. Morris eventually became disilllusioned with the EQA, describing it as being "full of wretched little personalities". He nevertheless joined a regrouping of predominantly working-class EQA activists, the National Liberal League, becoming their treasurer in summer 1879.
However, his discontent with the British liberal movement grew following the election of the Liberal Party's William Ewart Gladstone to the Premiership in 1880. Morris was particularly angered that Gladstone's government did not reverse the Disraeli regime's occupation of the Transvaal, introduced the Coercion Bill, and oversaw the Bombardment of Alexandria. He later related that while he had once believed that "one might further real Socialistic progress by doing what one could on the lines of ordinary middle-class Radicalism", following Gladstone's election he came to realise "that Radicalism is on the wrong line, so to say, and will never develope [sic] into anything more than Radicalism: in fact that it is made for and by the middle classes and will always be under the control of rich capitalists."
In 1876, Morris visited Burford Church in Oxfordshire, where he was appalled at the restoration conducted by his old mentor, G.E. Street. He recognised that these programs of architectural restoration led to the destruction or major alteration of genuinely old features in order to replace them with "sham old" features, something which appalled him. To combat the increasing trend for restoration, in March 1877 he founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB), which he personally referred to as "Anti-Scrape". Adopting the role of honorary secretary and treasurer, most of the other early members of SPAB were his friends, while the group's program was rooted in Ruskin's The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849). As part of SPAB's campaign, Morris tried to build connections with art and antiquarian societies and the custodians of old buildings, and also contacted the press to highlight his cause. He was particularly strong in denouncing the ongoing restoration of Tewkesbury Abbey and was vociferous in denouncing the architects responsible, something that deeply upset Street. Turning SPAB's attention abroad, in Autumn 1879 Morris launched a campaign to protect St. Mark's Church in Venice from restoration, garnering a petition with 2000 signatures, among whom were Prime Minister Disraeli, Gladstone, and Ruskin.
Merton Abbey and the Democratic Federation: 1881–84
In summer 1881, Morris took out a lease on the seven-acre former silk weaving factory at Merton Abbey Mills, in Merton, Southwest London. Relocating his workshops to the site, the premises were used for weaving, dyeing, and creating stained glass; within three years, 100 craftsman would be employed there. Working conditions at the Abbey were better than at most Victorian factories, however despite Morris' ideals there was little opportunity for the workers to display their own individual creativity. Morris had initiated a system of profit sharing among the Firm's upper clerks, however this did not include the majority of workers, who were instead employed on a piecework basis. Morris was aware that in retaining the division between employer and employed, the company failed to live up to his own egalitarian ideals, but defended this, asserting that it was impossible to run a socialist company within a competitive capitalist economy. The Firm itself was expanding, opening up a store in Manchester in 1883 and holding a stand at that year's Foreign Fair in Boston.
Janey's relationship with Rossetti had continued through a correspondence and occasional visits, although she found him extremely paranoid and was upset by his addiction to chloral. She last saw him in 1881, and he died in April the following year. Morris described his mixed feelings toward his deceased friend by stating that he had "some of the very greatest qualities of genius, most of them indeed; what a great man he would have been but for the arrogant misanthropy which marred his work, and killed him before his time". In August 1883, Janey would be introduced to the poet Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, with whom she embarked on a second affair, which Morris might have been aware of.
In January 1881 Morris was involved in the establishment of the Radical Union, an amalgam of radical working-class groups which hoped to rival the Liberals, and became a member of its executive committee. However, he soon rejected liberal radicalism completely and moved toward socialism. In this period, British socialism was a small, fledgling and vaguely defined movement, with only a few hundred adherents. Britain's first socialist party, the Democratic Federation (DF), had been founded by Henry Hyndman, an adherent of the socio-political ideology of Marxism, with Morris joining the DF in January 1893. Morris read voraciously on the subject of socialism, including Karl Marx's Das Kapital, although admitted that Marx's economic analysis of capitalism gave him "agonies of confusion on the brain". Instead he preferred the writings of William Cobbett and Sergius Stepniak, although also read the critique of socialism produced by John Stuart Mill.
In May 1883, Morris was appointed to the DF's executive, and was soon elected to the position of treasurer. Devoting himself to the socialist cause, he regularly talked at open-air meetings across Britain, hoping to gain more converts. In November 1883 he was invited to speak at University College, Oxford, on the subject of "Democracy and Art" and there began espousing socialism; this shocked and embarrassed many members of staff, earning national press coverage. With other DF members, he travelled to Blackburn, Lancashire in February 1884 amid the great cotton strike, where he lectured on socialism to the strikers. The following month he marched in a central London demonstration commemorating the first anniversary of Marx's death and the thirteenth anniversary of the Paris Commune.
Morris aided the DF using his artistic and literary talents; he designed the group's membership card, and helped author their manifesto, Socialism Made Plain, in which they demanded improved housing for workers, free compulsory education for all children, free school meals, an eight-hour day, the abolition of national debt, nationalisation of land, banks, and railways, and the organisation of agriculture and industry under state control and co-operative principles. Some of his DF comrades found it difficult to reconcile his socialist values with his position as proprietor of the Firm, although he was widely admired as a man of integrity. The DF began publishing a weekly newspaper, Justice, which soon faced financial losses that Morris covered. Morris also regularly contributed articles to the newspaper, in doing so befriending another contributor, George Bernard Shaw. His socialist activism monopolised his time, forcing him to abandon a translation of the Persian Shahnameh. It also led to him seeing far less of Burne-Jones, with whom he had strong political differences; although once a republican, Burne-Jones had become increasingly conservative, and felt that the DR were exploiting Morris for his talents and influence.
In 1884 the DF renamed itself the Social Democratic Federation (SDF) and underwent an internal reorganisation. However, the group was facing an internal schism between those (such as Hyndman), who argued for a parliamentary path toward socialism, and those (like Morris) who deemed the Houses of Parliament intrinsically corrupt. Personal issues between Morris and Hyndman were exacerbated by their attitude to British foreign policy; Morris was staunchly anti-imperialist while Hyndman expressed patriotic sentiment encouraging some foreign intervention. The division between the two groups developed into open conflict, with the majority of activists sharing Morris' position. In December 1884 Morris and his supporters left the SDF.
Socialist League: 1884–89
In December 1884, Morris founded the Socialist League (SL) with other SDF defectors. He composed the SL's manifesto with Ernest Belfort Bax, describing their position as that of "Revolutionary International Socialism", advocating proletarian internationalism and world revolution while rejecting the concept of socialism in one country. In this, he committed himself to "making Socialists" by educating, organising, and agitating to establish a strong socialist movement; calling on activists to boycott elections, he hoped that socialists would take part in a proletariat revolution and help to establish a socialist society. Bax taught Morris more about Marxism, and introduced him to Marx's collaborator, Friedrich Engels; Engels thought Morris honest but lacking in practical skills to aid the proletariat revolution. Morris remained in contact with other sector's of London's far left community, being a regular at the socialist International Club in Shoreditch, East London, however he avoided the recently created Fabian Society, deeming it too middle-class. Although a Marxist, he befriended prominent anarchist activists Stepniak and Peter Kropotkin, and came to be influenced by their anarchist views, to the extent that biographer Fiona MacCarthy described his approach as being "Marxism with visionary libertarianism".
As the leading figure in the League Morris embarked on a series of speeches and talks on street corners, in working men's clubs, and in lecture theatres across England and Scotland. He also visited Dublin, there offering his support for Irish nationalism, and formed a branch of the League at his Hammersmith house. By the time of their first conference in July 1885, the League had eight branches across England and had affiliations with several socialist groups in Scotland. However, as the British socialist movement grew it faced increased opposition from the establishment, with police frequently arresting and intimidating activists. To combat this, the League joined a Defence Club with other socialist groups, including the SDF, for which Morris was appointed treasurer. Morris was passionate in denouncing the "bullying and hectoring" that he felt socialists faced from the police, and on one occasion was arrested after fighting back against a police officer; a magistrate dismissed the charges. The Black Monday riots of February 1862 led to increased political repression against left-wing agitators, and in July Morris was arrested and fined for public obstruction while preaching socialism on the streets.
Morris oversaw production of the League's monthly — soon to become weekly — newspaper, Commonweal, serving as its editor for six years, during which time he kept it financially afloat. First published in February 1885, it would contain contributions from such prominent socialists as Engels, Shaw, Paul Lafargue, Wilhelm Liebknecht, and Karl Kautsky, with Morris also regularly writing articles and poems for it. In Commonweal he serialised a 13-episode poem, The Pilgrims of Hope, which was set in the period of the Paris Commune. From November 1886 to January 1887, Morris' novel, A Dream of John Ball, was serialised in Commonweal. Set in Kent during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381, it contained strong socialist themes although proved popular among those of different ideological viewpoints, resulting in its publication in book form by Reeves and Turner in 1888.
From January to October 1890, Morris serialised his novel, News from Nowhere, in Commonweal, resulting in improved circulation for the paper. In March 1891 it was published in book form, before being translated into French, Italian, and German by 1898 and becoming a classic among Europe's socialist community. Combining utopian socialism and soft science fiction, the book tells the tale of a contemporary socialist, William Guest, who falls asleep and awakes in the mid-20th century, discovering a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the means of production. In this society there is no private property, no big cities, no authority, no monetary system, no divorce, no courts, no prisons, and no class systems; it was a depiction of Morris' ideal socialist society.
Morris had also continued with his translation work; in April 1897, Reeves and Turner published the first volume of Morris' translation of Homer's Odyssey. Venturing into new territory, he also authored and starred in a play, The Tables Turned; Or Nupkins Awakened, which was performed at a League meeting in November 1887, which told the story of socialists on trial in front of a corrupt judge; the tale ends with the prisoners beind freed by a proletariat revolution. In June 1889, Morris traveled to Paris as the League's delegate to the International Socialist Working Men's Congress, where his international standing was recognised by being chosen as English spokesman by the Congress committee. The Second International emerged from the Congress, although Morris was distraught at its chaotic and disorganised proceedings.
At the League's Fourth Conference in May 1888, factional divisions became increasingly apparent between Morris' anti-parliamentary socialists, the parliamentary socialists, and the anarchists; the Bloomsbury Branch were expelled for supporting parliamentary action. Under the leadership of Charles Mowbray, the League's anarchist wing were growing and called on the League to embrace violent action. By autumn 1889 the anarchists had taken over the League's executive committee and Morris was stripped of the editorship of Commonweal in favor of Frank Kitz, an anarchist workman. This alienated Morris from the League, which had also become a financial burden for him, who was subsidising its activities with £500 a year; a very large sum of money at the time. By the autumn of 1890, Morris left the Socialist League, with his Hammersmith branch seceding to become the independent Hammersmith Socialist Society in November 1890.
The Kelmscott Press and Morris' final years: 1889–96
The work of Morris & Co. continued during Morris' final years, producing an array of stained glass windows designed by Burne-Jones and the six narrative tapestry panels depicting the Quest of the San Graal for Stanmore Hall. Morris' influence on Britain's artistic community became increasingly apparent as the Art Workers' Guild was founded in 1884, although at the time he was too preoccupied with his socialist activism to pay it any attention. Although the proposal faced some opposition, Morris would be elected to the Guild in 1888, and was elected to the position of master in 1892. Morris similarly did not offer initial support for the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, but changed his opinion after the success of their first exhibit, held in Regents Street in October 1888. Giving lectures on tapestries for the group, in 1892 he would be elected president. At this time, Morris also re-focused his attentions on SPAB campaigning; those causes he championed including the preservation of St. Mary's Church in Oxford, Blythburgh Church in Suffolk, Peterborough Cathedral, and Rouen Cathedral.
Although his socialist activism had decreased, he remained involved with the Hammersmith Socialist Society, and in October 1891 oversaw the creation of a short-lived newsletter, the Hammersmith Socialist Record. Coming to oppose factionalism within the socialist movement, he sought to rebuild his relationship with the SDF, appearing as a guest lecturer at some of their events, and supporting SDF candidate George Lansbury when he stood in the Wandsworth by-election of February 1894. In 1893 the Hammersmith Socialist Society co-founded the Jont Committee of Socialist Bodies with representatives of the SDP and Fabian Society. He offered support for far left activists on trial, including a number of militant anarchists whose violent tactics he nevertheless denounced. He also began using the term "communism" for the first time, stating that "Communism is in fact the completion of Socialism: when that ceases to be militant and becomes triumphant, it will be communism." In December 1895 he gave his final open-air talk at Stepniak's funeral, where he spoke alongside prominent far left activists Eleanor Marx, Kier Hardie, and Errico Malatesta. Liberated from internal factional struggles, he retracted his anti-Parliamentary position and worked for Socialist unity, giving his last public lecture in January 1896 on the subject of "One Socialist Party."
In December 1888, the Chiswick Press published Morris' The House of the Wolfings, a fantasy story set in Iron Age Europe which provides a reconstructed portrait of the lives of Germanic-speaking Gothic tribes. It contained both prose and aspects of poetic verse. A two-volume sequal, The Roots of the Mountains, followed in 1899. Over the coming years he would publish a string of other poetic works; The Story of the Glittering Plain (1890), The Wood Beyond the World (1894), The Well at the World's End (1894), The Water of the Wondrous Isles (1897) and The Sundering Flood (1898). He also embarked on a translation of the Anglo-Saxon tale, Beowulf; because he could not fully understand Old English, his poetic translation was based largely on that already produced by A.J. Watts. On publication, Morris' Beowulf would be critically panned. Following the death of the sitting Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in October 1892, Morris was offered the position, but turned it down, disliking its associations with the monarchy and political establishment; instead the position went to Alfred Austin.
In January 1891, Morris began renting a cottage near to Kelmscott House, No. 16 Upper Mall in Hammersmith, which would serve as the first premises of the Kelmscott Press, before relocating to the neighbouring No. 14 in May, that same month in which the company was founded. Devoted to the production of books which he deemed beautiful, Morris was artistically influenced by the illustrated manuscripts and early printed books of Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Before publishing its first work, Morris ensured that he had mastered the techniques of printing and secured supplies of hand-made paper and vellum which would be necessary for production. Over the next seven years, they would publish 66 volumes. The first of these would be one of Morris' own novels, The Story of the Glittering Plain, which was published in May 1891 and soon sold out. The Kelmscott Press would go on to publish 23 of Morris' books, more than those of any other author. The press also published editions of works by Keats, Shelley, Ruskin, and Swinburne, as well as copies of various Medieval texts. A number of the Press' books contained illustrations provided by Burne-Jones. The Press' magnum opus would be the Kelmscott Chaucer, which had taken years to complete and included 87 illustrations from Burne-Jones. Morris still remained firmly in an employer relation with those working at the Press, although organised outings for them and paid them above average wages.
By the early 1890s, Morris was increasingly ill and living largely as an invalid; aside from his gout, he also exhibited signs of epilepsy. In August 1891, he took his daughter Jenny on a tour of Northern France to visit the Medieval churches and cathedrals. Back in England, he spent an increasing amount of time at Kelmscott Manor. Seeking treatment from the prominent doctor William Broadbent, he was prescribed a holiday in the coastal town of Folkestone. In December 1894 he was devastated upon learning of his mother's death; she had been 90 years old. In July 1896, he went on a cruise to Norway with construction engineer John Carruthers, during which he visited Vadsö and Trondheim; during the trip his physical condition deteriorated and he began experiencing hallucinations. Returning to Kelmscott House, he became a complete invalid, being visited by friends and family, before dying on the morning of 4 October 1896. Obituaries appearing throughout the national press reflected that at the time, Morris was widely recognised primarily as a poet. Mainstream press obituaries trivialised or dismissed his involvement in socialism, although the socialist press focused largely on this aspect of his career. His funeral was held on 6 October, during which his corpse was carried from Hammersmith to Paddington rail station, where it was transported to Oxford, and from there to Kelmscott, where it was buried in the churchyard of St. George's Church.
Morris' biographer E.P. Thompson described him as having a "robust bearing, and a slight roll in his walk", alongside a "rough beard" and "disordered hair". The author Henry James described Morris as "short, burly, corpulent, very careless and unfinished in his dress... He has a loud voice and a nervous restless manner and a perfectly unaffected and businesslike address. His talk indeed is wonderfully to the point and remarkable for clear good sense." Morris' friends nicknamed him "Topsy" after a character in Uncle Tom's Cabin. Morris' first biographer Mackail described him as being both "a typical Englishman" and "a typical Londoner of the middle class" albeit one who was transformed into "something quite individual" through the "force of his genius". MacCarthy described Morris' lifestyle as being "late Victorian, mildly bohemian, but bourgeois". Morris also exhibited a strong sense of responsibility toward his family. Politically, Morris was a staunch revolutionary socialist and anti-imperialist, and although raised a Christian he came to be an atheist.
Morris was greatly influenced by Romanticism, with Thompson asserting that Romanticism was "bred into his bones, and formed his early consciousness." Thompson argued that this "Romantic Revolt" was part of a "passionate protest against an intolerable social reality", that of the industrial capitalism of Britain's Victorian era. However, he believed that it led to little more than a "yearning nostalgia or a sweet complaint" and that Morris only became "a realist and a revolutionary" when he adopted socialism in 1882. However, Mackail was of the opinion that Morris had an "innate Socialism" which had "penetrated and dominated all he did" throughout his life. Given the conflict between his personal and professional life and his socio-political views, MacCarthy described Morris as "a conservative radical".
Morris's behaviour was often erratic. He was of a nervous disposition, and throughout his life relied on networks of male friends to aid him in dealing with this. He had a wild temper, and when sufficiently enraged could suffer seizures and blackouts. Rossetti was known to taunt Morris with the intention of trying to enrage him for the amusement of himself and their other friends. Biographer Fiona MacCarthy suggests that Morris might have suffered from a form of Tourette's syndrome as he exhibited some of the symptoms. In later life he suffered from gout, a common complaint among middle-class males in the Victorian period.
Morris's ethos was that one should "have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris was a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, essays, and translations of ancient and medieval texts. His first poems were published when he was 24 years old, and he was polishing his final novel, The Sundering Flood, at the time of his death. His daughter May's edition of Morris's Collected Works (1910–1915) runs to 24 volumes, and two more were published in 1936.
Morris began publishing poetry and short stories in 1856 through the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine which he founded with his friends and financed while at university. His first volume, The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), was the first book of Pre-Raphaelite poetry to be published. The dark poems, set in a sombre world of violence, were coolly received by the critics, and he was discouraged from publishing more for a number of years. "The Haystack in the Floods", one of the poems in that collection, is probably now one of his better-known poems. It is a grimly realistic piece set during the Hundred Years War in which the doomed lovers Jehane and Robert have a last parting in a convincingly portrayed rain-swept countryside. One early minor poem was "Masters in this Hall" (1860), a Christmas carol written to an old French tune. Another Christmas-themed poem is "The Snow in the Street", adapted from "The Land East of the Sun and West of the Moon" in The Earthly Paradise.
Morris met Eiríkr Magnússon in 1868, and began to learn the Icelandic language from him. Morris published translations of The Saga of Gunnlaug Worm-Tongue and Grettis Saga in 1869, and the Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs in 1870. An additional volume was published under the title of Three Northern Love Stories in 1873.
In the last nine years of his life, Morris wrote a series of imaginative fictions usually referred to as the "prose romances". These novels – including The Wood Beyond the World and The Well at the World's End – have been credited as important milestones in the history of fantasy fiction, because, while other writers wrote of foreign lands, or of dream worlds, or the future (as Morris did in News from Nowhere), Morris's works were the first to be set in an entirely invented fantasy world. These were attempts to revive the genre of medieval romance, and written in imitation of medieval prose. Morris's prose style in these novels has been praised by Edward James, who described them as "among the most lyrical and enchanting fantasies in the English language."
On the other hand, L. Sprague de Camp considered Morris's fantasies to be not wholly successful, partly because Morris eschewed many literary techniques from later eras. In particular, De Camp argued the plots of the novels are heavily driven by coincidence; while many things just happened in the romances, the novels are still weakened by the dependence on it. Nevertheless, large subgenres of the field of fantasy have sprung from the romance genre, but indirectly, through their writers' imitation of William Morris.
Early fantasy writers like Lord Dunsany, E. R. Eddison and James Branch Cabell were familiar with Morris's romances. The Wood Beyond the World is considered to have heavily influenced C. S. Lewis' Narnia series, while J. R. R. Tolkien was inspired by Morris's reconstructions of early Germanic life in The House of the Wolfings and The Roots of the Mountains. The young Tolkien attempted a retelling of the story of Kullervo from the Kalevala in the style of The House of the Wolfings; Tolkien considered much of his literary work to have been inspired by an early reading of Morris, even suggesting that he was unable to better Morris's work; the names of characters such as "Gandolf" and the horse Silverfax appear in The Well at the World's End.
During his lifetime, Morris produced items in a range of crafts, mainly those to do with furnishing and building. He emphasised the idea that the design and production of an item should not be divorced from one another, and that where possible those creating items should be artist-craftsmen, thereby both designing and manufacturing their goods. Morris & Co.'s designs were fashionable among Britain's upper and middle-classes, with biographer Fiona MacCarthy asserting that they had become "the safe choice of the intellectual classes, an exercise in political correctitude." The company's unique selling point was the range of different items that it produced, as well as the ethos of artistic control over production that it emphasised.
Furnishing textiles were an important offering of the firm in all its incarnations. By 1883, Morris wrote "Almost all the designs we use for surface decoration, wallpapers, textiles, and the like, I design myself. I have had to learn the theory and to some extent the practice of weaving, dyeing and textile printing: all of which I must admit has given me and still gives me a great deal of enjoyment."
It is likely that much of Morris's preference for medieval textiles was formed – or crystallised – during his brief apprenticeship with G. E. Street. Street had co-written a book on Ecclesiastical Embroidery in 1848, and was a staunch advocate of abandoning faddish woolen work on canvas in favour of more expressive embroidery techniques based on Opus Anglicanum, a surface embroidery technique popular in medieval England.
Morris taught himself embroidery, working with wool on a frame custom-built from an old example. Once he had mastered the technique he trained his wife Jane, her sister Bessie Burden and others to execute designs to his specifications. When "embroideries of all kinds" were offered through Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. catalogues, church embroidery became and remained an important line of business for its successor companies into the twentieth century. By the 1870s, the firm was offering both embroidery patterns and finished works. Following in Street's footsteps, Morris became active in the growing movement to return originality and mastery of technique to embroidery, and was one of the first designers associated with the Royal School of Art Needlework with its aim to "restore Ornamental Needlework for secular purposes to the high place it once held among decorative arts."
Printed and woven textiles
Morris's first repeating pattern for wallpaper is dated 1862, but was not manufactured until 1864. All his wallpaper designs were manufactured for him by Jeffrey & Co, a commercial wallpaper maker. In 1868 he designed his first pattern specifically for fabric printing. As in so many other areas that interested him, Morris chose to work with the ancient technique of hand woodblock printing in preference to the roller printing which had almost completely replaced it for commercial uses.
Morris took up the practical art of dyeing as a necessary adjunct of his manufacturing business. He spent much of his time at Staffordshire dye works mastering the processes of that art and making experiments in the revival of old or discovery of new methods. One result of these experiments was to reinstate indigo dyeing as a practical industry and generally to renew the use of those vegetable dyes, such as the red derived from madder, which had been driven almost out of use by the anilines. Dyeing of wools, silks, and cottons was the necessary preliminary to what he had much at heart, the production of woven and printed fabrics of the highest excellence; and the period of incessant work at the dye-vat (1875–76) was followed by a period during which he was absorbed in the production of textiles (1877–78), and more especially in the revival of carpet-weaving as a fine art. However, his first carpet designs of 1875, were made for him industrially by commercial firms using machinery.
Morris's patterns for woven textiles, some of which were also machine made under ordinary commercial conditions, included intricate double-woven furnishing fabrics in which two sets of warps and wefts are interlinked to create complex gradations of colour and texture. His textile designs are still popular today, sometimes recoloured for modern sensibilities, but also in the original and bright colourways.
Morris long dreamed of weaving tapestries in the medieval manner, which he called "the noblest of the weaving arts." In September 1879 he finished his first solo effort, a small piece called "Cabbage and Vine". Shortly thereafter Morris trained his employee John Henry Dearle in the technique, setting up a tapestry loom at Queen Square and later a large tapestry works at Merton Abbey.
Morris' ethos of production was an influence on Bauhaus. Another aspect of Morris's preservationism was his desire to protect the natural world from the ravages of pollution and industrialism, causing some historians of the green movement to regard Morris as an important forerunner of modern environmentalism.
Morris's first biographer was Burne-Jones' son-in-law John William Mackail, who authored the two-volume Life of William Morris (1899) in which he provided a sympathetic portrayal of Morris that largely omitted his political activities, treating them as a passing phase that Morris overcame.[clarification needed]
Mackail summed up his career for the Dictionary of National Biography in a quote that is markedly prescient in its assessment:
The fame of Morris during his life was probably somewhat obscured by the variety of his accomplishments. In all his work after he reached mature life there is a marked absence of extravagance, of display, of superficial cleverness or effectiveness, and an equally marked sense of composition and subordination. Thus his poetry is singularly devoid of striking lines or phrases, and his wall-papers and chintzes only reveal their full excellence by the lastingness of the satisfaction they give. His genius as a pattern-designer is allowed by all qualified judges to have been unequalled. This, if anything, he himself regarded as his specific profession; it was under the designation of "designer" that he enrolled himself in the socialist ranks and claimed a position as one of the working class. And it is the quality of design which, together with a certain fluent ease, distinguishes his work in literature as well as in industrial art. It is yet too early to forecast what permanent place he may hold among English poets. "The Defence of Guenevere" had a deep influence on a limited audience. With "Jason" and the "Earthly Paradise" he attained a wide popularity: and these poems, appearing as they did at a time when the poetic art in England seemed narrowing into mere labour on a thrice-ploughed field, not only gave a new scope, range, and flexibility to English rhymed verse, but recovered for narrative poetry a place among the foremost kinds of the art. A certain diffuseness of style may seem to be against their permanent life, so far as it is not compensated by a uniform wholesomeness and sweetness which indeed marks all Morris’s work. In "Sigurd the Volsung" Morris appears to have aimed higher than in his other poems, but not to have reached his aim with the same certainty; and his own return afterwards from epic to romance may indicate that the latter was the ground on which he was most at home. The prose romances of his later years have so far proved less popular in themselves than in the dilutions they have suggested to other writers. Here as elsewhere Morris’s great effect was to stimulate the artistic sense and initiate movements. So likewise it was with his political and social work. Much of it was not practical in the ordinary sense; but it was based on principles and directed towards ideals which have had a wide and profound influence over thought and practice.
From a later perspective, Stansky concludes that:
Morris's views on the environment, on preserving what is of value in both the natural and "built" worlds, on decentralising bloated government, are as significant now as they were in Morris's own time, or even more so. Earlier in the twentieth century, much of his thinking, particularly its political side, was dismissed as sheer romanticism. After the Second World War, it appeared that modernisation, centralisation, industrialism, rationalism – all the faceless movements of the time – were in control and would take care of the world. Today, when we have a keen sense of the shambles of their efforts, the suggestions which Morris made in his designs, his writings, his actions and his politics have new power and relevance.
Before his death Morris authorised the publication of Aymer Vallance's The Life and Work of William Morris, which claims that Morris believed his greatest achievement to be the founding of the SPAB. Morris's ideas about building conservation philosophy, outlined in the SPAB Manifesto of 1877, have had, and continue to have, a profound influence on historic building laws and practices both in the UK and overseas.
Notable collections and house museums
A number of galleries and museums house important collections of Morris's work and decorative items commissioned from Morris & Co. The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, England, is a public museum devoted to Morris's life, work and influence. The Art Gallery of South Australia is "fortunate in holding the most comprehensive collection of Morris & Co. furnishings outside Britain". The collection includes books, embroideries, tapestries, fabrics, wallpapers, drawings & sketches, furniture and stained glass, and forms the focus of two published works (produced to accompany special exhibitions).
The former "green dining room" at the Victoria and Albert Museum is now its "Morris Room". The V&A's British Galleries house other decorative works by Morris and his associates.
Wightwick Manor in the West Midlands, England, is a notable example of the Morris & Co. style, with original Morris wallpapers and fabrics, De Morgan tiles, and Pre-Raphaelite works of art, managed by the National Trust. Standen in West Sussex, England, was designed by Webb between 1892 and 1894 and decorated with Morris carpets, fabrics and wallpapers. The illustrator Edward Linley Sambourne chose to decorate his London family home 18 Stafford Terrace with many Morris & Co wallpapers, which have been preserved and can still be seen today. Morris's homes Red House and Kelmscott Manor have been preserved. Red House was acquired by the National Trust in 2003 and is open to the public. Kelmscott Manor is owned by the Society of Antiquaries of London and is open to the public.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California acquired the collection of Morris materials amassed by Sanford and Helen Berger in 1999. The collection includes stained glass, wallpaper, textiles, embroidery, drawings, ceramics, more than 2000 books, original woodblocks, and the complete archives of both Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. and Morris & Co. These materials formed the foundation for the 2002 exhibition William Morris: Creating the Useful and the Beautiful and 2003 exhibition The Beauty of Life: William Morris and the Art of Design and accompanying publication.
Collected poetry, fiction, and essays
- The Hollow Land (1856)
- The Defence of Guenevere, and other Poems (1858)
- The Life and Death of Jason (1867)
- The Earthly Paradise (1868–1870)
- Love is Enough, or The Freeing of Pharamond: A Morality (1872)
- The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs (1877)
- Hopes and Fears For Art (1882)
- The Pilgrims of Hope (1885)
- A Dream of John Ball (1888)
- A Tale of the House of the Wolfings, and All the Kindreds of the Mark Written in Prose and in Verse (1889)
- The Roots of the Mountains (1890)
- Poems By the Way (1891)
- News from Nowhere (or, An Epoch of Rest) (1890)
- The Story of the Glittering Plain (1891)
- The Wood Beyond the World (1894)
- Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair (1895)
- The Well at the World's End (1896)
- The Water of the Wondrous Isles (1897)
- The Sundering Flood (1897) (published posthumously)
- Golden Wings and Other Stories (1976)
- Grettis Saga: The Story of Grettir the Strong with Eiríkr Magnússon (1869)
- The Saga of Gunnlaug the Worm-tongue and Rafn the Skald with Eiríkr Magnússon (1869)
- Völsung Saga: The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs, with Certain Songs from the Elder Edda with Eiríkr Magnússon (1870) (from the Volsunga saga)
- Three Northern Love Stories, and Other Tales with Eiríkr Magnússon (1875)
- The Odyssey of Homer Done into English Verse (1887)
- The Aeneids of Virgil Done into English (1876)
- Of King Florus and the Fair Jehane (1893)
- The Tale of Beowulf Done out of the Old English Tongue (1895)
- Old French Romances Done into English (1896)
Published Lectures and Papers
- Lectures on Art delivered in support of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (Morris lecture on The Lesser Arts). London, Macmillan, 1882
- Architecture and History & Westminster Abbey". Papers read to SPAB in 1884 and 1893. Printed at The Chiswick Press. London, Longmans, 1900
Morris & Co. stained glass
Burne-Jones–designed and Morris & Co.-executed Nativity windows (1882), Trinity Church, Boston
Burne-Jones–designed and Morris & Co.-executed The Worship of the Magi window (1882), Trinity Church, Boston.
Burne-Jones-designed and Morris & Co.-executed Saint Cecilia window at Second Presbyterian Church (Chicago, Illinois)
Morris & Co. textiles
Strawberry Thief, furnishing fabric, designed Morris, 1883
Detail of a watercolour design for the Little Flower carpet showing a portion of the central medallion, by William Morris
Panel of ceramic tiles designed by Morris and produced by William De Morgan, 1876
Kelmscott Press typefaces and colophon, 1897
The Nature of Gothic by John Ruskin, printed by Kelmscott Press. First page of text, with typical ornamented border
Troilus and Criseyde, from the Kelmscott Chaucer. Illustration by Burne-Jones and decorations and typefaces by Morris
- Merry England
- Robert Steele (medievalist)
- Sydney Cockerell
- Victorian decorative arts
- William Morris Society
- William Morris Sixth Form
- 'William Morris in the Twenty-First Century' by Phillippa Bennett & Rosemary Miles, Peter Lang2010, ISBN 3034301065, 9783034301060. p.136
- Mackail 1901, pp. 1–2; Thompson 1955, pp. 1–2; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 1–2.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 2–3; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 1–2, 7.
- Mackail 1901, p. 3; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 1–2, 10.
- Mackail 1901, p. 4; MacCarthy 1994, p. 2.
- Mackail 1901, p. 10; Thompson 1955, p. 2; MacCarthy 1994, p. 11.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 5–6.
- Mackail 1901, p. 5; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 6–7.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 8–9.
- Mackail 1901, p. 11; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 14–17.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 6–7; MacCarthy 1994, p. 13.
- Mackail 1901, p. 10; Thompson 1955, pp. 4–5; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 17–18.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 9, 18.
- Mackail 1901, p. 11; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 20–21.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 11, 14, 18; Thompson 1955, p. 22; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 26–27.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 15–16; Thompson 1955, pp. 3–5; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 29–34.
- Mackail 1901, p. 16; Thompson 1955, p. 5; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 37–40.
- Mackail 1901, p. 17; Thompson 1955, pp. 23–24; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 43–44.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 48–50.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 25–26; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 52–53.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 53–55.
- Thompson 1955, p. 6; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 53–55, 60–61.
- Thompson 1955, pp. 9–10.
- Thompson 1955, p. 28.
- Thompson 1955, pp. 29–32; MacCarthy 1994, p. 71.
- Thompson 1955, pp. 3, 40; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 64–65.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 112.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 34–35; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 52, 56–58.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 35–36, 41–42; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 59–60.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 65.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 45, 47; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 61–62.
- Mackail 1901, p. 38; Thompson 1955, pp. 32–35; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 69–71.
- Thompson 1955, pp. 35–38.
- Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911, "William Morris"
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 73–74.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 51–53; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 74–77.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 62–64; Thompson 1955, pp. 25–26; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 65–68.
- Mackail 1901, p. 48; MacCarthy 1994, p. 82.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 71&ndahs;78; Thompson 1955, pp. 26–27; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 82–94.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 95.
- Mackail 1901, p. 83; MacCarthy 1994, p. 96.
- Mackail 1901, p. 81; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 96–97.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 88, 92; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 98–102.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 82, 87, 102; Thompson 1955, p. 43; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 102–108.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 102; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 108–110.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 111–112.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 100–102, 105; Thompson 1955, pp. 42–44; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 113–115.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 106; MacCarthy 1994, p. 116.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 105, 109; Thompson 1955, pp. 44–45; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 115, 122–123.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 117–126; Thompson 1955, pp. 46–47; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 129–134.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 112–114; Thompson 1955, p. 45; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 117–122.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 123–125.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 129–135; Thompson 1955, pp. 76, 85; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 142–147.
- Thompson 1955, pp. 48, 74–76; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 135–141.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 138–139; Thompson 1955, p. 76; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 151–152.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 129–130, 141; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 154–156.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 141–142.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 161–162.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 154–156.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 140–144; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 164–165.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 157.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 171.
- Thompson 1955, p. 92.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 159–160; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 157–158.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 158–159; Thompson 1955, p. 92; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 158–160.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 162–163.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 186–187.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 144–148; Thompson 1955, pp. 92–93; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 166–169.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 175.
- Thompson 1955, pp. 99–100.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 151–152; Thompson 1955, p. 94; MacCarthy 1994, p. 172.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 176–177.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 154–155; Thompson 1955, pp. 96–97; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 179–181.
- Thompson 1955, p. 96.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 181.
- Mackail 1901, p. 156; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 182–183.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 170.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 160–161; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 185–186.
- Mackail 1901, p. 161; MacCarthy 1994, p. 187.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 192–193.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 221–223.
- Mackail 1901, p. 163; Thompson 1955, p. 94; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 193–195.
- Mackail 1901, p. 162; MacCarthy 1994, p. 193.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 164–165; Thompson 1955, p. 94; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 196–197.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 198.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 198–199.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 175–176; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 207–210.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 211.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 176–177; Thompson 1955, p. 96; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 212–213.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 229–230.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 241.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 224, 253–254.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 259.
- Mackail 1901, p. 290; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 270–273.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 214–215.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 215.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 216.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 217.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 401–204; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 231–246.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 183–186; MacCarthy 1994, p. 204.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 179–183, 192–197, 204–208; Thompson 1955, pp. 110–150; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 199–203, 259–264.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 269–270.
- Mackail 1901, p. 213; MacCarthy 1994, p. 270.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 200–201; Thompson 1955, pp. 176–179; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 290–291, 325.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 276–280; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 264–269.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 280–288; Thompson 1955, pp. 151–153; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 323–324.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 273–275.
- Mackail 1901, p. 225; Thompson 1955, pp. 161, 173; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 275–276.
- Mackail 1901, p. 225; Thompson 1955, pp. 174–175; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 311–314.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 319–321.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 335.
- Thompson 1955, p. 165; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 325–326.
- Thompson 1955, p. 165; MacCarthy 1994, p. 361.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 240–274; Thompson 1955, pp. 179–182; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 279–309.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 293–294; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 307–308.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 294–298; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 330–334.
- Thompson 1955, p. 184; MacCarthy 1994, p. 278.
- Mackail 1901, p. 304; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 336–340.
- Mackail 1901, p. 304; MacCarthy 1994, p. 336.
- Mackail 1901, p. 308; Thompson 1955, pp. 162–163; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 335–336.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 305–308; Thompson 1955, p. 97; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 341–344.
- Mackail 1901, p. 324; Thompson 1955, p. 192; MacCarthy 1994, p. 347.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 311–317; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 348–350.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 351–352.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 350, 356–357.
- Mackail 1901, p. 351; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 400–402.
- Mackail 1901, p. 353; MacCarthy 1994, p. 409.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 412.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 411–412.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 320–323; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 361–362.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 310–311, 330–335; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 371–372.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 336–337; MacCarthy 1994, pp. pp=374–375.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 328–330; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 368–371.
- Mackail 1901, p. 359; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 387–390.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 391–398.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 403–406.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 424–428.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 347–351; Thompson 1955, pp. 192–193, 202–225; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 378–382.
- Mackail 1901, p. 351; MacCarthy 1994, p. 384.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 362; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 385–386.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 421–422.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 423.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 422–423.
- Mackail 1901, p. 340; Thompson 1955, pp. 226–228; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 375–377.
- Mackail 1901, pp. 339–346; Thompson 1955, p. 228; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 375–377.
- Thompson 1955, p. 229; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 377–378.
- Thompson 1955, p. 229; MacCarthy 1994, pp. 415–416.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 429–433.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 453.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 454–458.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 452.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 438–442.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 442.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 447–451.
- Mackail 1901, p. 351; MacCarthy 1994, p. 462.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 462–467.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 467–471.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 472.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 274–275.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 477–479.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 487.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 488.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 484.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 471.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 485–497.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 482.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 481–482.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 493–496.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 499–503.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 504.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 504–505.
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- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 506–507, 509.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 541.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 510.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 543–545.
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- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 510, 520.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 540–541.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 524.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 526–530.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 527–528.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 533–538.
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- MacCarthy 1994, p. 512.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 546–549.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 583–588.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 562–564.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 564–566.
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- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 598, 653.
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- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 641–642.
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- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 655–656.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 606–608.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 608.
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- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 648–649.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 631–633.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 589, 608–609, 620.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 609–611.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 589.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 615.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 615–617.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 618.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 647–648.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 621–622.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 624.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 626–627.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 627.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 658–662.
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- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 664–666.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 667–670.
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- MacCarthy 1994, p. 185.
- Faulkner, Peter, "The Writer". In Parry, William Morris, p. 44-45
- "The words were written for the old French carol tune shortly before 1860 by Morris, who was in Street's office with Edmund Sedding (architect and compiler of carols, brother of the more famous J. D. Sedding; he died early, in 1868). Sedding had obtained the tune from the organist at Chartres Cathedral, and he published the words and tune in his Antient Christmas Carols, 1860." – The Oxford Book of Carols, 1928, p. 277.
- Set to music by composers including Ralph Vaughan Williams. The Oxford Book of Carols, 1928, p. 406.
- Dictionary of National Biography, 1901, "William Morris"
- Faulkner, Peter, "The Writer". In Parry, William Morris, p. 47
- Lin Carter, ed. Kingdoms of Sorcery, p. 39 Doubleday and Company Garden City, NY, 1976.
- Edward James, "Morris, William" in the St. James Guide To Fantasy Writers, ed. David Pringle, St. James Press, 1996, ISBN 1-55862-205-5, p. 426-9.
- L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy, p. 46. ISBN 0-87054-076-9
- L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers, p. 40.
- L. Sprague de Camp, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers, p. 26.
- David Pringle, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, London, Carlton, 1998. (p. 36)
- John R. Pfeiffer, "William Morris" in Supernatural Fiction Writers: Fantasy and Horror, ed. E. F. Bleiler, Scribner, 1985. ISBN 0-684-17808-7 (p 299-306).
- Hammond and Scull, The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, p. 816.
- Robert Reginald, "Sir Henry Newbolt's Aladore", in Xenograffiti: Essays On Fantastic Literature. Wildside Press, 1996 ISBN 0-8095-1900-3 (p.95-99).
- Hero, Stephen, "Morris and James Joyce," The Journal of William Morris Studies, 6.3 (Summer 1985): 36, p. 11.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 590.
- MacCarthy 1994, p. 413.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 409–410.
- Quoted in Waggoner, DianeThe Beauty of Life: William Morris & the Art of Design.
- Parry, William Morris Textiles, pp. 10–11.
- Parry, Linda (1983). William Morris textiles. Viking Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-670-77075-5.
- Wearden, Jennifer Mary; Thomas, Ian (1983). Oriental carpets and their structure: highlights from the V&A collection. Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 978-0-8109-6610-9.
- Parry, William Morris Textiles, pp. 16–17.
- Quoted in Parry, William Morris Textiles, pp. 18–19.
- Parry, William Morris Textiles, pp. 36–46.
- Waggoner, The Beauty of Life, p. 54.
- Parry, William Morris Textiles, pp. 103–104.
- Waggoner, The Beauty of Life, p. 86.
- MacCarthy 1994, pp. 604–605.
- Wall, Derek. Green History: A Reader. London, Routledge, (pgs. 9-12,240, 242-3).
- Guha, Ramachandra. Environmentalism: A Global History. London, Longman 2000 (pgs. 15-6).
- MacCarthy 1995, pp. viii, x.
- Stansky (1983) p. 89.
- Vallance, Aymer. "The Life and Work of William Morris" George Bell and Sons 1897 p.267
- Miele, Chris (ed) 2005
- "News from Waltham Forest". The Guardian. 21 April 2007.
- Walthamforest.gov.uk, William Morris Gallery Development Project.
- Walthamforest.gov.uk, Support the William Morris Gallery Development Project.
- William Morris Gallery Development Project
- Menz, Christopher, (2002) Morris & Co., Adelaide : Art Gallery of South Australia
- Menz, Christopher (1994), Morris & Company: Pre-Raphaelites and the Arts & Crafts Movement, Art Gallery of South Australia : Adelaide
- "William Morris at the Victoria and Albert Museum". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
- http://www.kelmscottmanor.org.uk/about About Kelmscott Manor
- "Crafts Cornered", Los Angeles Times, 15 December 1999, p. F1.
- "Huntington Library: "William Morris: Creating the Useful and the Beautiful"". Archived from the original on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
- "MORRIS, WILLIAM (1834–1896) & WEBB, PHILIP (1831–1915)". English Heritage. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
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- Thompson, E.P. (1955). William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary. London: Lawrence & Wishart.
- MacCarthy, Fiona (1994). William Morris: A Life for Our Time. London: Faber. ISBN 0 571 14250 8.
- Mackail, J.W. (1901). The Life of William Morris: Volume One (new ed.). London, New York, and Bombay: Longmans, Green & Co.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
This article also incorporates text from the Dictionary of National Biography, supplemental volume 3 (1901), a publication now in the public domain.
- Eugene LeMire, A Bibliography of William Morris (2006. Oak Knoll Press & the British Library)
- Carpenter, Humphrey, Tolkien: A Biography, New York, Ballantine Books, 1977, ISBN 0-04-928037-6
- Coote, Stephen, William Morris: His Life and Work, Smithmark Publishers, 1995, ISBN 1-85833-479-9
- Cotton, Albert Louis. "The Kelmscott Press and the New Printing," The Contemporary Review, Vol. LXXIV, August 1898.
- Daly, Gay, Pre-Raphaelites in Love, New York, Ticknor & Fields, 1989, ISBN 0-89919-450-8
- de Camp, L. Sprague, Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy, ISBN 0-87054-076-9
- Fairclough, Oliver and Emmeline Leary, Textiles by William Morris and Morris & Co. 1861–1940, Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, 1981, ISBN 0-89860-065-0
- Fiell, Charlotte and Peter, William Morris Cologne, Taschen, 1999 ISBN 3-8228-6617-2.
- Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull, The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2006, ISBN 978-0-618-39113-4
- Jackson, Holbrook, "William Morris 1834-1896", in "The Saturday Book, 1946", pg 113.
- Kelvin Norman ed. The Collected Letters of William Morris Princeton University Press 1985 ISBN 978-0-691-06501-4
- Mackail, J. W., The Life of William Morris in two volumes, London, New York and Bombay: Longmans, Green and Co., 1899
- MacCarthy, Fiona (1994). William Morris: A Life For Our Time. London: Faber. ISBN 0-571-17495-7.
- Mackail, J. W., "William Morris," in The Dictionary of National Biography. Supp. vol. 3 (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1901), p. 197–203, reproduced at the William Morris Society[dead link]
- Menz, Christopher, Morris and Company: Pre-Raphaelites and the Arts & Crafts Movement Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 1994 ISBN 0-7308-3040-3
- Menz, Christopher, Morris & Co. Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 2002 ISBN 0-7308-3029-2
- Miele, Chris (Ed), From William Morris. Building Conservation and the Arts and Crafts Cult of Authenticity 1877-1939 Yale University Press, New Haven and London 2005 ISBN 0-300-10730-7
- Parry, Linda, "Textiles", in The Earthly Paradise: Arts and Crafts by Wiliam Morris and his Circle in Canadian Collections, edited by Katharine A. Lochnan, Douglas E. Schoenherr, and Carole Silver, Key Porter Books, 1993, ISBN 1-55013-450-7
- Parry, Linda, ed., William Morris, Abrams, 1996, ISBN 0-8109-4282-8
- Parry, Linda, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement: A Sourcebook, New York, Portland House, 1989 ISBN 0-517-69260-0
- Parry, Linda, William Morris Textiles, New York, Viking Press, 1983, ISBN 0-670-77074-4
- Parry, Linda, Textiles of the Arts & Crafts Movement, Thames and Hudson, revised edition 2005, ISBN 0-500-28536-5
- Stansky, Peter (1983). William Morris. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-287571-X.
- Peterson, William S., A bibliography of the Kelmscott Press. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984. ISBN 0-19-818199-X
- Peterson, William S., The Kelmscott Press: a history of William Morris's typographical adventure. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991. ISBN 0-19-812887-8
- Reason, Robert, Morris & Co. designs and patterns Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 2003 ISBN 978-0-7308-3037-5
- Salmon, Nick, The William Morris Chronology, Thoemmes Press 1996 ISBN 1-85506-504-5 (online version also by Nick Salmon)
- Thompson, E.P. (2nd edition, 1976) William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary, Pantheon, ISBN 0-394-73320-7
- Todd, Pamela, Pre-Raphaelites at Home, New York: Watson-Guptill, 2001. ISBN 0-8230-4285-5
- Vallance, Aymer. The Life and Work of William Morris", George Bell and Sons, 1897
- Waggoner, Diane, The Beauty of Life: William Morris & the Art of Design, Thames and Hudson, 2003, ISBN 0-500-28434-2
- Anonymous (1873). Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day. Illustrated by Frederick Waddy. London: Tinsley Brothers. pp. 28–29. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
- Arscott, Caroline. William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones: Interlacings, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press (Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art), 2008). ISBN 978-0-300-14093-4
- Freudenheim, Leslie. Building with Nature: Inspiration for the Arts & Crafts Home (Gibbs Smith 2005) ISBN 978-1-58685-463-8.
- Donovan, Andrea. William Morris and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. London. 2007. Routledge ISBN 978-0415955959
- Goodway, David. Anarchist Seeds beneath the Snow: Left Libertarian Thought and English Writers From William Morris to Colin Ward
- S. Otis Thompson, American Book Design and William Morris (repr. 1996)
- Harvey, Charles & Press, Jon William Morris: Design and enterprise in Victorian Britain, Manchester University Press 1991 ISBN 0-7190-2419-6.
- Le Bourgeois, John (2006) Art and Forbidden Fruit: Hidden Passion in the Life of William Morris Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press, ISBN 978-0-7188-3059-5.
- Marsh, Jan (2005). William Morris and Red House: A Collaboration Between Architect and Owner. National Trust Books. ISBN 978-1-905400-01-0.
- Meier, Paul. William Morris: The Marxist Dreamer, Harvester Press (November 1977) (2vols) v1 ISBN 978-0-85527-474-0.
- Pinkney, Tony. William Morris in Oxford: The Campaigning Years, 1879–1895 (2007).
- Robinson, Duncan (1982). William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and the Kelmscott Chaucer. London: Gordon Fraser.
- Sharp, Frank C and Marsh, Jan, (2012) The Collected Letters of Jane Morris, Boydell & Brewer, London
- Thompson, E.P. (1976; first published, 1955). William Morris, Romantic to Revolutionary. London: Merlin.
- Watkinson, Ray (1990). William Morris as Designer. London: Trefoil Books. ISBN 0-86294-040-0.
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-  Morris Online Edition. Morris's literary works, translations, life and images, the Book Arts.
- Works by William Morris at Project Gutenberg. Plain text and HTML versions.
- Works by William Morris at Internet Archive. Scanned books, many illustrated.
- Works by William Morris at The Online Books Page.
- Works by William Morris at sacred-texts.com, including full text of The Earthly Paradise.
- William Morris Index Entry at Poets' Corner
- The William Morris Internet Archive (marxists.org)
- Biography by J. W. Mackail (Dictionary of National Biography, 1901)[dead link]
- "William Morris", Stephen Gwynn in Macmillan's Magazine, Vol. LXXVIII, May to Oct., 1898, pp. 153–160
- William Morris and his Circle[dead link]
- William Morris Stained Glass
- William Morris at Art Passions
- William Morris - The Soul of Arts and Crafts
- The William Morris Gallery official website
- The William Morris Gallery (London Borough of Waltham Forest)
- The William Morris Society
- A Morris and De Morgan tile panel at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
- The Pre-Raph Pack Discover more about the artists, the techniques they used and a timeline spanning 100 years.
- William Morris online exhibition at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin
- Examples of pages from the Kelmscott Chaucer
- Morris Online Edition.
- Morris's translations
- Morris's literary writings The Morris Online Edition includes images of first editions and Kelmscott editions, as well as online texts and supplementary materials.
- Works by William Morris at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- William Morris at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Archival material relating to William Morris listed at the UK National Archives
- Portraits of William Morris at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- The art of William Morris[dead link]. Vallance, A., Scott, T., Evans, F. H., Chiswick Press, Kelmscott Press, George Bell & Sons, & Swan Electric Engraving Company (London). London, Printed at the Chiswick Press and published by G. Bell & Sons, 1897.NK942 M67 V3a. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Library
- Victorian printing and William Morris’s Kelmscott Press
- William Morris facebook