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“It was my good luck only of being born respectable and rich, that has put me this side of the window among delightful books and lovely works of art.” – William Morris

6th August 2017

We’ve covered most aspects of William Morris’ life in this blog. A man who gave us such beautiful designs and has a lasting legacy which influences bloggers, artists and fashionistas of today (Marc Jacobs included) we can’t help but be fascinated by his life. What inspired him? How did he get to be in such a position that he managed to leave us such beautiful work that’s somehow still relevant and fitting today – not only in his textile designs but visit many churches around the UK or even St James’ Palace and you’ll see his work. His reach is much farer and wider than you’d ever imagine – you’ve just got to keep your eye out for it.

We’ve been reading a lot recently about Morris’ childhood and teenage years. It’s unsurprising to learn that both his literary and his artistic tastes emerged at an early age. An avid reader, he formed passions he would carry on with him throughout his life – romance, architecture and the natural world – which was clearly his biggest inspiration, look at his designs and you’ll see wildlife galore!

Of Welsh descent, his grandfather left Wales in the later half of the 18th Century to Worcester. His mother and father, William and Emma moved to Walthamstow in 1833 with their two children, Emma and Henrietta, and here had their third child – William on 24th March 1834. It was here one of his strongest social beliefs was born at a young age – it was the year of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. The whole of his childhood coincided with the working man’s struggle with the affects of industrialisation. He despised this throughout his life and it pushed him to many of his later achievements. His parents had two more girls and four more boys and though he was close to his sister Emma during their childhoods, historians have found little evidence of a sustained relationship during adulthood. It was only his youngest brother Edgar that would join him in his work at Merton Abbey.

From Morris’ birthplace in Elm House, they moved to Woodford Hall and later to Water House in Walthamstow in 1849 after his father’s death. It’s this mid 18th century property that today houses the William Morris Gallery and has done since 1950. If you visit you’ll find an unbelievable – and permanent – collection of a full range of his work throughout his life and examples/ explanations of his influence on the famous Arts & Crafts movement.

His father left the family with a substantial sum of money – due to very successful speculation in copper shares. His father bought shares at West Country copper mine at £1 a share for 272 and these soared to a whopping £800 per share – please remember how much £800 would have been worth in that time! With over £200,000, his childhood was undoubtably carefree of money troubles and very comfortable – which continued into his early adulthood and allowed him to be free of the restraints of working for just money and concentrate on his own passions – free of money worries. He’d be the first to have agreed to his privileged status in life saying, “it was my good luck only of being born respectable and rich, that has put me this side of the window among delightful books and lovely works of art.”

Ironically then – and historians have noted it was a source of embarrassment for Morris – the very thing he hated most, industrialisation, allowed him to be immersed in the world of decorative arts which was based on a very conscious reaction against the mechanisation of the Victorian Industrial Age.

His schooldays began in 1848 – the year of the foundation of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood, Morris  began school at Marlborough College. The school was a new one and seemed lax in it’s approach, meaning he had little formal education and appears to be largely self taught, visiting the well equipped library here. Many credit Morris throughout his working life to be largely self taught, perhaps it was here at school he learnt this skill as the library had a bias towards books on ecclesiastical architecture and archaeology – meaning he took an avid interest in the subjects.

Many know how he attended Oxford University, however we must remember that when we’re speaking about his experience here, Oxford wasn’t like we know it today, it was still a medieval city in 1853. The years he spent here were, as described by himself, the happiest of his life. Formative in terms not only of his art but also learning his surroundings and forming lifelong friendships with like minded people who would inspire him and work with him throughout his career. He studied Theology at Exeter College and though he passed, he never appeared to be over enthusiastic in his opinion of the academic teaching of Oxford but instead, again, the ability for him to be self taught and receive opportunities outside of academia that were the real highlights for him.

He was incredibly happy at Oxford, forming lifelong friendships and making both artistic and literary discoveries which would shape his career. Many of his ideals were born here. An opinionated man, he passionately believed in everything he wrote or spoke about. The fact remains that he did alter many peoples views on the issues of the time, not only through his art but also through his writing.

Make sure to check the blog next week for the next instalment on his later years at Oxford and his apprenticeship following the completion of his degree.

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Our Black Friday sale is now live! 🥂 On our website only, use code, BLACKFRIDAY10 all weekend for 10% off your order ☺️ Ends Sunday at midnight 🌙
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Dreaming of the sunshine 💭 This is our smallest size of tote bag, in our licensed William Morris Strawberry Thief, on this bike ride we were pretty happy that it was filled to the brim with snacks to eat on the beach ☀️ On Wintery nights we love to look back on the sunshine! ☁️
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We're so thrilled our new website is now live! 🌿Just in time for Christmas shopping, it's much easier to use, and still full of beautiful licensed William Morris designs on every page! We hope you like the change, especially where lots of you are featured on the new 'inspiration' page! 🌟 We absolutely love that it showcases everyones tablescapes and craft projects, just click on them to see the design and who posted the photo so you can see more of their content ☺️ If you're happy for us to use your photos, just send us a message, we'd love it to be a page we can keep adding to throughout the seasons 🪴
Special thank you to @adigi_agency for creating our website, we love it! 🤍
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A few of our licensed William Morris designs all hanging out, aren’t they iconic! It’s amazing that you can see a Morris print and instantly know it’s his design 🌿
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Hands up if you’re a Golden Lily fan 🙋‍♀️ Our licensed William Morris design tea towels make excellent Christmas gifts if you’re writing your Christmas list!🎄 
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Always brightening up the kitchen; Willow Bough 🌿 What a special design ✨
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“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life” - William Morris. Some days, for us, that means decorating our tables with napkin bows and settling down for a slice of cake! 🧁
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Fabric stack of floral dreams 💭
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We'd say Morris more than succeeded, with timeless designs and words, it shows true beauty and art will never age 🌿 Morris wrote this quote in "The Well At The World's End: Volume I." Have you ever read much of his poetry or writing? ✍️
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A little fabric stack full of William Morris floral magic 🌿
Is anyone else a little excited that it's only 100 days until Christmas... or is it too soon to talk about? We're quite excited for Christmas crafts, food and films! ☺️ We wonder what your favourite Morris design is? Does it change based on season? 🎄 (it's far too early for this emoji but we're excited and can't help it, sorry.)
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Important conversation of the day at Laura's Beau HQ: who fancies a crumble and which is your favourite flavour? 🍎 Apple seems popular, so does rhubarb ☀️ One thing we can agree on is that we're all going to be baking them tonight - best get our fave oven gloves out! 👩‍🍳 These are our licensed William Morris Eyebright double oven gloves, isn't it such a beautiful pattern 🤍
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We were cutting our Strawberry Thief fabric today and the sunlight hit it perfectly, we couldn’t resist a picture 🌿 All our licensed William Morris designs are printed in the United Kingdom, and we sell it by the half metre 🪡 If you’re in the UK and would like a sample, just send us a message! 💌 
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisdesign #design #strawberrythief #preraphaelite #cottonfabric #upholsteryfabric #curtainfabric #fabrics
A close up of our beautiful licensed William Morris Trellis 😍 Isn't it such a timeless design, it was first designed in 1864, inspired by the rose trellis in Morris's garden at beautiful Red House 🌿 It was the first wallpaper Morris designed, along with Daisy and Fruit. 
Because the three designs were produced using a hand printing process, each colour needed a separate block and for the three designs it was 12 blocks each so was a long and expensive process. Therefore, they were all put on hold until the early 1870s when Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & co. had enough money to finance the designs 🎨We love the Trellis design, currently our tea towel is hanging over the cooker - we always wonder if Morris could ever have foreseen that his design in 1864 would be so well loved all these years later? 🤍
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William Morris designs are inspired by nature, so we love to see them in nature! 🌿 This beautiful Pimpernel Cream design was first designed by Morris in 1876 and is in our medium tote, we have lots of sizes for every occasion! 🤍
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What’s your favourite thing to make out of our licensed William Morris fabric? 🌿it’s always incredible to see what you create 🧵🪡
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Did you know we have matching  kitchen accessories in a range of licensed Morris designs? 🌿 Perfect for pressies or treating yourself to bring a little Morris floral magic into your kitchen 🤍✨
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