Poets & Painters
William Morris ·
Howard Pyle ·
Morris (1834-1896) is best known as a compatriot
of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the father of the
Arts and Crafts movement.
description for "William Morris and the Kelmscott Press,
at the John Rylands Library, Manchester, 1996, called Morris
"...one of the greatest English
geniuses of the nineteenth century,
extending considerable influence over a wide
number of different fields. He
was a designer of clothes, fabrics
and wallpapers which still remain an
important influence in design today.
As a member of the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood, with his friends Rosetti and Burne-Jones,
he helped to create a
new style in painting, frescos and stained glass.
He was a poet of some distinction ... and was invited
to become, though never became, Poet Laureate.
He was a trained architect
and, although he never practised ...
he was influential in both the preservation of old
buildings and new town planning. As a translator from
Icelandic he brought to
the attention of the English reading public
the value of the heritage of the ancient sagas.
He was an original socialist
thinker and contributed much to the
political thought of the time. As a craftsman
and proprietor of his own company
he spread ideals of individual
workmanship, namely the organic wholeness
of all the arts and resistance to
mass-production. Finally, towards the end of his life,
he turned his attention towards fine printing, founding the
Kelmscott Press, the greatest and
most influential of the nineteenth-century private presses."
Other sources will remind us that Morris also resurrected
free-hand embroidery as an art form,
rediscovered almost-forgotten techniques for extracting and setting
natural dyestuffs, and pioneered the return to classic
typography in the face of the ghastly hordes of slab-serif fonts that
characterize commercial printing of the nineteenth century.
But what is intriguingly absent from the most laudatory
surveys of the man and his work is the fact that William Morris
almost single-handedly invented the medieval-flavored
imaginary world fantasy.
William Morris Resources
The William Morris
Society in the United States.
This extensive and lovely site includes:
Society of Canada.
Work of William Morris by John House, a brief introduction at
World Collectors Net magazine online.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
includes links to related sites. New !
Biography of William Morris is part of the
Victorian Web, where you will also find
and Company, a brief history of "The Firm" by David Cody.
Cotswold HyperGuide William Morris page has examples of Morris's stained
Prose and Poetry
The Northern Thing. In 1868, Morris met Eiríkr Magnússon,
an Icelander living in England, and the two of them embarked on
a series of translations of the Old Norse sagas, with Magnusson
providing literal translations and Morris resetting them as poetry.
Legends' page on Sigurd the Volsung
explores Morris's translation of Völsungasaga and its
progeny, the epic poem The Story of Sigurd the Volsung
and the romance in verse and prose The House of the Wolfings,
and their profound influence on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Prose translations by Eiríkr Magnússon and William Morris,
as PDF files at In Parentheses. New !
- The House of the Wolfings [Newcastle, 1978, ISBN: 0878771158]
The Earthly Paradise
is a cycle of poems surrounded by a framing
device, based on the model of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The
framing story tells of Norse seafarers
who find the descendants of a band of Greek wanderers living
on a remote island in the West; they meet monthly for a year
and tell stories based on Greek and Norse legends. In Tolkien:
A Biography, Humphrey Carpenter points out that the framing
device on the earliest version of The Silmarillion (later abandoned)
was based directly on the model of The Earthly Paradise.
Selections from The Earthly Paradise and examples of Morris's
other poetry can be found at
Poetry of William Morris, part of Representative Poetry
Online at the University of Toronto.
romances are evocative, magical adventures set
in imaginary medieval landscapes; they are the
progenitors of today's imaginary world
- The Roots of the Mountains [Newcastle, 1979, ISBN: 0878771182]
- Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair
- The Glittering Plain, both in
The Story of the Glittering Plain and Child Christopher [Thoemmes Press, 1996 ISBN: 1855064618]
- The Wood Beyond the World [Dover, 1972, ISBN: 048622791X, Ballantine, 1969, o.p.]
- The Well at the World's End [Alan Sutton Pocket Classics Series, 1997, ISBN: 0750912073]
- The Water of the Wondrous Isles [Ballantine, 1971, o.p.]
- The Sundering Flood [Ballantine 1973, o.p.]
- "The Hollow Land," in Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy [Ballantine, 1972, o.p.]
The prose romances as hypertext at the University of Adelaide. (New !)
Dreamer of Dreams, an essay on Morris the fantasist by Ian Covell.
Essays and Addresses on the Decorative Arts
an Old House on the Upper Thames, Morris's 1895 essay on
Kelmscott Manor, with the original illustrations and ornaments, is
part of John Burrows's Founders
of the Arts and Crafts Movement page at J.R. Burrows
& Company, Historical-Design Merchants.
The Decorative Arts,
Their Relation to Modern Life and Progress, an 1877 address
by Morris to the Trades' Guild of Learning, is also at
of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Lesser Arts of Life, an address delivered by Morris in
support of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings,
1882, is another essay at
of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Beauty of Life: William Morris
and the Art of Design, an exhibit at the Huntington Library. New !
The One Essential Reference
Willam Morris, edited by Linda Parry, Abrams, 1996,
ISBN: 0810942828, was issued in conjunction with the massive exhibition
William Morris 1834-1896 at the Victoria and Albert Museum in
1996. This extensively annotated catalog dicusses Morris's life and work,
with commentary by specialists on textiles, wallpaper, illustration,
furniture, architecture, typography, calligraphy, tiles, stained glass,
and other decorative arts. The text discusses Morris's art, life,
and business in the context of his times.
Notes on the Illustrations ·
29 February 2004