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Jane Morris; Born on this day in 1839

19th October 2017

Born in 1839, Jane Burden was born in Oxford, the daughter of Robert Burden, a stableman and Ann Maizey a laundress. She grew up in a poor home and had little education herself. Had she not met and gotten involved with the artists, she probably would have followed her mother into the domestic service industry. Instead, she became the ultimate embodiment of Pre-Raphaelite beauty ideal.

Jane met William in 1857 when she visited the Drury Lane Theatre Company in Oxford along with her sister Elizabeth. It was Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti who noticed her sat in the gallery below them and asked her to model for their art. She refused at first, so much so that she didn’t even show up to her scheduled time with Rossetti who wished to paint her for her mural – she didn’t know either of them and was wary. Upon a chance second meeting bumping into Burne-Jones, she finally agreed – unknowingly signing herself up to be the face of the Pre-Raphaelite movement as the woman in many of the artists paintings. The artist that loved to paint her the most was Rossetti who became obsessed with using Jane as his model and muse.

The two were undoubtably in love by this point, but he was engaged to be married to Lizzie Siddal and so after meeting Morris when she was his painting of Queen Guinevere (La Belle Iseult) she agreed to marry him. Ironically, Guinevere was famously beautiful – and famously unfaithful.

It can be noted here that by her own admission she was not in love with Morris at this point and it was a one sided love. It was now that she received her education – to become the wife of a wealthy gentleman, it wouldn’t do that she’d received little formal education. She was privately educated to learn French, Italian and the piano, also taught etiquette. Morris himself had an influence too as Jane became a talented needle woman, creating many beautiful embroideries.

Their daughter Jenny was born in 1861, followed by her sister May in 1862. The family moved to Red House in Kent – have you been? Today it’s a National Trust house and a beautifully preserved family home – famous due to it’s constant source of inspiration to Morris. It was this home that when he looked to decorate couldn’t find any suitable furnishings and so he, along with his good friend Philip Webb, created their own. It was from this the Firm – Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was formed – later leading to his own venture, Morris & Co. The house led to the Arts & Crafts movement. Later they moved to Kelmscott House – the basement and coach house remains to be where our friends at the William Morris Society are! We love visiting, it’s beauty never fails to amaze us!

Ultimately, her marriage to Morris really seemed to come to it’s end in 1871 when Morris went to Iceland to escape the affair Jane was having with Rossetti after his wife died. Their affair had led Morris to move Rossetti into their home in Kelmscott to keep their affair private. It’s important to remember that during the Victorian times, a marriage such as Jane’s to William wasn’t unusual – for girls from poor backgrounds, a marriage for class and not love was extremely common.

Her relationship to Rossetti, though it lasted until his death in 1882, wasn’t without it’s issues. He had a dependancy on chloral hydrate, a drug which was taken for insomnia. She distanced herself from him due to this. His art of her has lived on, from her own modelling in his images to him using artistic impressions of her as mythological roles such as pandora, she had a sombre face in each. Art critics and historians have projected this onto the fact it reflects Rossetti’s own troubled soul. His art of her is nevertheless iconic of the epitome of beauty of Pre-Raphaelite womanhood, which must have undoubtably been incredibly flattering for her.

Her last love came in the form of an affair with Wilfred Scawen Blunt, was a poet and political activist, which carried on until 1894. After the ending of the romance, her husband fell ill and she cared for him until his death. After this, she remained single the rest of her life, dying 16 years after Morris, aged 75.

Her lasting image, due to Rossetti’s art, are of a sombre and sullen woman, though we know her to have a much more full and round personality. It’s important to remember her many talents – she had an active role in the family business Morris & Co., was a multilingual talented musician and embroider and a home maker for her two daughters. Along with her intelligence and hobbies, she’s also captured the attention of art fans for generations as she remains to be the face of Pre-Raphaelite womanhood.

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A William Morris fabric stack 😍 What would you make from our licensed William Morris floral fabrics? 🪡🧵
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We hope you’re having a lovely Easter 🐣 Choccy treats galore with some beautiful Morris florals, what more could we want! 🌷🤍
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabrics #williammorrisfabric #floraldesign #tablescapestyling #upholsteryfabric #curtainfabric #preraphaelite #floral
Morris fan? There’s 15% off our entire collection of licensed William Morris fabrics and products, this Easter weekend only! 🐣 Use code: EASTER15 at checkout, on our website only, until Monday at midnight 🌙 Enjoy this Easter treat from us! 🤍
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisdesign #onlinefabric #onlinefabrics #preraphaelite #upholsteryfabric #curtainfabric #floraldesign
We love all the beautiful spring florals this time of year 🌷 We’ve also not been able to resist starting early on the Easter treats! 🐣
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisdesign #williammorrisfabrics #willowbough #tablescape #tablescapes #eastertablesetting #upholsteryfabric #upholsteryfabrics #curtainfabrics #eastertableideas
Introducing Daisy, our latest William Morris licensed design 🌿 Daisy was the second wallpaper William Morris designed, but the first to be produced in 1864, so it remains a special design to every Morris fan ✨ It must have been a favourite of Morris himself, as embroideries of Daisy were used to decorate at the stunning Red House, Morris's home in Bexleyheath. 
We hope you love Daisy as much as we do! Available now on our website, in a limited range of products, fabric is coming soon! ☺️
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A fabric stack of William Morris floral dreams 🤍
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Spring floral ready with our William Morris Willow Bough table setting 🌿 Do your weekend plans also revolve around tea/coffee and baked goods? 🤍
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #willowbough #springfloral #preraphaelite #spring #florals #floralfabric #tablescape #onlinefabric #onlinefabricstore #curtainfabric #upholsteryfabric
Monday done right, laying the table with our beautiful licensed William Morris Willow Bough green tablecloth, completed with a @bettys treat 🥰 
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A little fabric stack of our William Morris florals, waiting to be crafted into a project 🪡 Can you name them all from the little peak? 🌿 
All our fabrics are printed in the UK and are licensed William Morris designs, printed both size and colour wise to our own specification ✨ If you’d like a sample, just send us a message 📬
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Showcasing our licensed William Morris Lily fabric, it’s so light and bright it’s making us excited for Spring! 🌿
Designed by William Morris in 1874, it incorporates the willow background with lilies and wild flowers ✨ The design must have been well loved by Morris himself- it was the wallpaper he used to decorate his bedroom at Kelmscott Manor, his home in Lechlade, Gloucestershire 🌿
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Thrilled with our reupholstered chair, brought back to life with our heavyweight William Morris Willow Bough Green 🌿 It’s amazing what a pop of colour and a floral will do to a room 🤍 If you fancy learning how we did this upcycle, we’ll write a blog on it ☺️ 
& if you’re in the UK and would like a sample of any of our fabrics, please let us know 📮
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The different weights of fabric 🧵 We have four weights of fabrics; cotton, heavyweight, drill and pvc, all work well for different projects. For a free sample, please feel free to message us and we’ll get them sent out to you 📮
✨ For our 100% cotton, it’s great for quilting, dress making and more, our lightest weight of cotton
✨ Our heavyweight cotton is perfect for curtains and light upholstery, a heavier fabric than our 100% cotton 
✨ Our drill cotton fabric is our heaviest weave fabric, suitable for light upholstery 
✨ Our PVC is our pvc/oilcloth coated cotton fabric, brilliant as a table covering, it’s sold by the half metre and as it won’t fray, is great to put straight on the table 🌿

The cotton, heavyweight and drill cotton are all 152cm wide and the pvc fabric is 140cm wide. All are sold by the half metre 📏
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In January when the Christmas sparkles come down, we’ve got to bring out even more Morris florals to make sure the house still feels sparkly and beautiful ✨ if you’re also looking to revamp any of the home and looking for a licensed William Morris design for a pop of colour, get in touch for any samples so you can choose which works in your home 🤍
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#williammorris #morris #strawberrythief #preraphaelite #onlinefabric #onlinefabricstore #fabrics #williammorrisfabric
Our blue Strawberry Thief oven gloves are back in stock, just in time for Christmas! 🎄 will you be gifting some Morris floral magic this year? Or hope to be receiving some! 🎁 Our matching sets of kitchenware and tableware are very popular this time of year, remember if you’re sending direct to your loved one, you can select for the items to be gift wrapped at checkout on our website! 🌟
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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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