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William Morris

27th January 2020

It’s been a while since we’ve done a blog just about William Morris and his life. We hope you do take a look through the rest of our blogs, where you’ll find more post about Morris and his life. We’ve been blogging for years now, so we hope you find something that you enjoy!

William Morris – the Early Years

Born 24th March 1834 in Walthamstow, Essex. He went on to study at Exeter College, Oxford University. It was here that we can really pick up his story in terms of his influences for his art. He met many people here that shaped him for life – including Edward Burne-Jones. They met and became life long friends; working together throughout their lives to create lots of beautiful art.

They were set to be within the church as Clergymen before they got involved in the Oxford movement, influenced by John Ruskin. Reading his work and learning from peers in Oxford, they read his work on the social and moral basis of architecture. Morris, following university, went on to take a position in the office of G.E. Street, an architect of the style Gothic Revivalist. The architecture Morris was entrenched in being in Oxford definitely led him to this office as he saw the stunning Gothic architecture here and wanted to protect that against the popularity of the time for building modern buildings and modernising the current ones.

Marriage and family life

He met his wife, Jane Burden, in October 1857. They met after she attended a performance by the Drury Lane Theatre Company, based in Oxford. She was spotted for her beauty by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones whilst she sat in the audience with her sister, Bessie. They were entranced by her and wanted to have her model for their art but she was unsure of the strangers and so didn’t turn up. A chance meeting saw them meeting again and she eventually sat modelling for much of their art – immortalised forever in many of the groups paintings. This included incredibly famous Rossetti’s Queen Guinevere and Morris’ La Belle Iseult. The latter can be found today in the Tate Gallery.

It was Morris who fell in love with Jane, asking for her hand in marriage. Rossetti was already engaged at the time, and so she said yes to William Morris, clearly because of his status. She is known to have said herself that she did not love him and, in the years of their marriage, she had a long affair with Rossetti after the death of his wife, which hurt Morris greatly.

They did have two children, May and Jane Alice (known as Jenny) and it was May who worked within his business, Morris & Co. and in her own right, has a wonderful legacy of art.

The Firm

Morris and Jane’s home was Red House in Bexleyheath, London. It was designed by Morris and his friend, Philip Webb. Completed in 1860, it was Webb who did a lot of the exterior designs as he was the architect and Morris did much of the interiors. It was designed in the style of contemporary Neo-Gothic and Burne-Jones couldn’t;t have been more right when he described it as “the beautifulest place on Earth.”

When furnishing the house, Morris found that he struggled to find quality furnishings and it inspired him to create a decorative arts company which would fulfil this need. Along with six partners; Burne-Jones, Webb, Rossetti, Charles Faulkner, Ford Madox Brown and Peter Paul Marshall. They called it; Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (often referred to as The Firm.) Focusing on design and quality with British producers, Morris was, from the start, interested in preserving and encouraging traditional crafts.

 

Morris & Co.

After The Firm’s was dissolved, Morris set back up under ‘Morris & Co.’ which remains a huge part of Morris’s legacy. Again, passionate about hand crafting, quality, traditional craftsmanship, these are all things the brand was renowned for. The designs he created during his time running Morris & Co. are beautiful and today, we licence many of them to our own colour and sizing specifications.

Values

It’s utterly impossible to talk about Morris’s work without noting his passion for art for everyone. He famously is quoted in saying, “…I do not want art for a few; any more than education for a few; or freedom for a few… ” and this was something he not only spoke about but really implemented within his own company. The conditions in Victorian England at the time both for work and living were things Morris was passionate about changing. As industrialisation did occur at this time as more people shifted towards ‘progress’ Morris pushed back – he is clear in his views with this quote which is rather beautiful and also, as worrying as when he first said it – if you would ever like to read our environmental policy, please do so here. “There is no square mile of earth’s inhabitable surface that is not beautiful in its own way, if we men will only abstain from wilfully destroying that beauty.”

The Arts and Crafts Movement

An important member of the Arts and Crafts movement, he was part of a group that were really wanting to preserve the heritage and craft of traditional crafts. He followed through with this by opening his own printing works – Merton Abbey in 1881. Here, him and his team weaved, dyed, produced stained glass and more. It was here he thrived and perfected his indigo dye technique, which he was really passionate about, being known to walk round with blue forearms as he perfected it. This is something you can read about in multiple posts within our blog, so we hope you have a minute to go read them!

 

There’s so much to say about such a multi faceted man and we couldn’t possibly touch on it all within one blog. We do hope though that you grab a cup of tea and sit down to read some our other blogs about Morris and friends. We also regularity update our social media with little bits of happiness about William Morris and his work so we hope you come join us over there too! 

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Bertie’s been loving Bridgerton and thought he’d pose with the wisteria wearing his Daisy cravat 😉
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When the audio accurately sums up how you feel about a design 🫶🏻 Beautiful Sweet Briar was first designed in 1912, we love the sweet little pink flowers in the climbing rose stems 🌹 This licensed Morris design is now back in stock, let us know if you’d like a sample! ✨
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabric #fabricstash #ukfabric #ukprinting #floralfabric #preraphaelite #floraldesign #floraldesigner
Our William Morris Willow Bough green placemats are now back in stock! ✨ They’re a beautiful addition to the table for every meal time 🫶🏻
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#williammorris #williammorrisdesign #williammorrisfabrics #fabric #placemats #tablescape #floraltable #preraphaelite #floralhome
🌷 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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#williammorris #williammorrisdesign #williammorrisfabrics #fabric #fabriccrafts #craftersgonnacraft #crafting #williammorrisprint #strawberrythief #willowbough #shopsmall #independantbusiness #ukbusiness
🌷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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#williammorris #williammorrisdesign #williammorrisfabrics #williammorrisfabric #morrisdesign #quoteoftheday #florals #modernflorals #teatowels #preraphaelitebrotherhood #preraphaelites
🐥 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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#williammorris #williammorrismonth #williammorrisdesign #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabric #willowbough #easter #eastertables
🌷 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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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #preraphaelite #preraphaelites #kelmscottpress #morris #williammorrismonth #williammorrisdesign #victorian #victorianart #victorians
🌷 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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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #williammorrismonth #spring #spring2024 #preraphaelite #florals #floralfabric #springflorals #springflowers
📝 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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#williammorrismonth #williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #morris #strawberrythief #quotesaboutlife #quotestoliveby #quotes
☀️ 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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#spring #williammorrismonth #williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabric #fabricstash #smallbusinessuk #printedintheuk #etsyshop
🐰 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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#williammorrismonth #williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #williammorrisprint #easter #easterdecor #eastercrafts #eastercrafting #fabriccraft #greatfabricdestashuk
🍓 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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#williammorrismonth #williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #picnicbasket #craftideas #craftidea #fabriccraft #fabricstore #fabricshoppingonline #fabricstash