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International Women’s Day, Pre Raphaelite Women

8th March 2022

On International Women’s Day, it’s important to us to celebrate strong women both past and present, so today we’re turning our attention to the Pre Raphaelite women. There’s quite a few to note, but for today, we’re going to focus on some noticeable talent within the group, including May Morris and Christina Rossetti. There’s a whole bunch we could write and chat about, it’s always interesting to look through the women who were successful in their own right, with the societal background not as empowering towards them as it is today.

Christina Rossetti

A well known artist, Christina Rossetti is known for modelling in several of her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s paintings. Not to be overshadowed by this, she is a hugely famous writer. You might even have been singing her Christmas carol, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ every year.

Writing from 1842, Christina mostly imitated her famous poets and it wasn’t until 1847 she began her own style of work with experimentation of verse forms. At the age of 18, she published two poems, ‘Death’s Chill Between’ and ‘Heart’s Chill Between’ both of which appeared in Athenaeum in 1848. Under her pen-name ‘Ellen Alleyne’ she also began her public career in The Germ- a literary magazine which was published by the Pre-Raphaelites (edited by her other brother, William.)

Goblin Market and Other Poems is her famous collection and is the work she is best remembered for, which was published in 1862. The reviews placed her as the foremost female poet of the time. In the time from then, many critics have debated the title poem’s meaning, many see it as a commentary on Victorian gender roles and female agency- give it a read and see what you deem from the poem!

Indeed it could be from personal experiences she encountered; from 1859- 1870, Rossetti was a volunteer worker at the St. Mary Magdalene ‘House of Charity’ based in Highgate. This charity worked as a refuge for former prostitutes which she felt passionate about- opposed to many issues in society before the time they were addressed, she very much opposed the exploration of girls in under-age prostitution. There was also feminist themes running through her poetry. Whilst many may think of Pre-Raphaelite women as simply those that posed for their brothers/friends and husbands paintings, Rossetti very much bucks the perceived image and shows that not only can a woman be an image of beauty, but work to become hugely successful- and remembered- in her own right, but also have time to work for the rights of others.

“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.”- Christina Rossetti

May Morris

May Morris is a really interesting woman. Aged just 23, she took over, and ran, the entire embroidery section of her fathers company, Morris & Co. after completing her studies at Kensington School of Design. It was from this point on that all designs were done by both her and John Henry Dearle- what a huge accomplishment at any time, but especially during this era when the vast majority of women did not work or weren’t taken seriously in the work place.

May also founded the Women’s Guild of Arts in 1907; remaining the president until 1935. May saw that there was an ‘Art Workers’ Guild’ for men, established in 1884, May pushed the boundaries and formed the women’s equivalent. Only from 1960 have women been allowed into the original Guild, however this fact alone shows that May was years ahead of the changing attitudes to gender equality- seeing she couldn’t be admitted into a society which were inspired by her fathers ideas and the Arts and Crafts Movement, she showed her determination by doing it herself!

When you think of Pre-Raphaelite women, you may immediately think of their pale skin and flowing tresses, both of which are focused on in literature. However- we’d challenge you to look further at these women and look into their successes- we know we’re sometimes guilty of it on this blog at giving a heavy focus on the men and their achievements, and we’re working on changing this; the women showed just as much talent, and in the Victorian era when the women were much more suppressed than today’s society, it’s hard to not be in awe of all they achieved!

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🌷 William Morris month day 30 🌷 As we come near the end of Morris month, we’re celebrating with a fabric stack, full of beautiful licensed designs, which is your fave? 🌿 “Remember that a pattern is either right or wrong. It cannot be forgiven for blundering, as a picture may be which has otherwise great qualities in it. It is with a pattern as with a fortress, it is no stronger than its weakest point.”- William Morris 🤍 
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🐭 William Morris month day 29 🐭 We’ve been loving William Morris month to celebrate Morris’s birthday month, spreading his floral magic by posting everyday - have you discovered a new favourite design of his this month? 🌿 We absolutely love these little mice and the banner by @mini_and_bob - aren’t they so lovely! 🐭🤍
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🌷William Morris Month Day 28🌷 Happy Easter weekend everyone! 🐥 We hope everyone has a lovely long bank holiday 🌿 We’re already planning some beautiful William Morris tablescapes, nothing too complex, all you need is some Morris florals, some flowers and lots of chocolate! 🐰
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🌷 William Morris Month Day 26 🌷 Absolutely loving a spring time floral on the table right now, especially when paired with an Easter craft or two! 🤍
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabrics #williammorrisfabric #morris #fabric #fabriccraft #fabrics #crafting #independantbusiness #indiebusiness #preraphaelite
🌿 William Morris Month Day 25 🌿 Florals on florals on florals; all of the William Morris florals just look so beautiful together and, as Morris said himself, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” 🌷
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🐥 William Morris Month Day 23 🐥 Loving the sunshine this week for springtime 🌿 We absolutely love Willow Bough on the table in the sunshine paired with spring blooms 🌷
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🌷 William Morris Month Day 22🌷 A themed table is always our favourite, we’ve been loving setting the table lately with an Easter theme- especially when it means we can eat the eggs after! 🐣✨ 
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#williammorris #williammorrismonth #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #preraphaelite #eastertables #eastereggs #eastertablescape #springflorals
🌿 William Morris Day 20 🌿 William Morris fact of the day; did you know he founded the Kelmscott Press? 🖋️ He wrote of the venture – “Here is a new craft to conquer and to perfect.” Printing began at the press in Spring 1891 🪴 He designed multiple fonts including “Golden” Roman typeface and “Troy” Gothic type along with “Chaucer” and he worked to create beautiful books in regards to their designs which took into account their type, image and decorative elements – you can see beautiful examples of what he achieved today if you do a quick search on the Kelmscott Press- it’s well worth a Google! 🌷
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🌷 William Morris Month Day 19🌷 Happy first day of spring everyone! 🪴 We celebrated in our favourite way; coffee and cake of course! 🍰 Now we love florals all year round of course, but especially love adding in even more this time of year to reflect the blooms in the garden 🌷 What’s your favourite Morris design this time of year? 🌿
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📝 William Morris Month Day 18 📝 Did you know that as well as being an incredible designer, William Morris was also a brilliant writer and poet; have you read any of his writing? What’s your favourite quote? 🌷🌿
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☀️ William Morris Month Day 17 ☀️ The sunshine today has made us feel so excited for spring, it’s almost officially here! 🪴 This William Morris bunting is the dreamiest backdrop to all the spring summer days in the garden, it’s by @ellejoycreations - isn’t it fabulous!🌷
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🐰 William Morris Month Day 16 🐰 A Sunday spent Easter decorating, these cute little bunnies were a craft a few years back and they are always a firm favourite to bring out this time of year to hang on our Easter tree 🐥 Have you started decorating or eating eggs yet? 🐣
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🍓 William Morris Month Day 15 🍓 Absolutely can’t wait for the summer months to get our Strawberry Thief picnic basket and blanket back out- if you missed this craft we have a DIY on our website blog, along with a lot of other craft ideas and how-to blogs ☺️
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🍓 William Morris Month Day 14 🍓 Strawberry Thief was inspired by William Morris’s watching the thrushes under the strawberry nets at the stunning @kelmscottmanor 🌿 May Morris conjured up this scene when speaking of the design, “You can imagine my Father going out in the early morning and watching the rascally thrushes at work on the fruit beds and telling the fanned who growls ‘I’d like to wring their necks!’ that no bird in the garden must be touched. There were certainly more birds than strawberries in spite of attempts at protection. And the walls of the little dining-room are hung with this note of the June garden and the little lords of it.” 🍓 What a lovely insight into the Morris family life! 🥰
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