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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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A William Morris fabric stack 😍 What would you make from our licensed William Morris floral fabrics? 🪡🧵
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabrics #fabric #fabricdestashuk #fabricstack #upholsteryfabric #curtainfabric
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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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabric#onlinefabricstore #preraphaelite #williammorrisdesign#upholsteryfabric #curtainfabric #daisy
A fabric stack of William Morris floral dreams 🤍
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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabrics #floralfabrics #onlinefabrics #onlinefabricshop #upholsteryfabric #upholsteryfabrics #curtainfabric #curtainfabrics #strawberrythief #fabricstack
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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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisdesign #willowbough #tablescape #tablescapes #tablescapestyling #bettys #preraphaelite #preraphaelites #tablecloth #floraltable #onlinefabric #onlinefabrics
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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#williammorris #morris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabricstash #fabricstack #morrisfabric #preraphaelite #floralfabric #upholsteryfabric #curtainfabric #onlinefabricshop #onlinefabricshopping
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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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabrics #floralfabric #lily #onlinefabricstore #onlinefabrics #onlinefabric #independentbusiness #preraphaelite
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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#williammorris #morris #williammorrisfabric #morrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #willowbough #reupholstery #reupholstered #upholsteryfabric #upcycledfurniture
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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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #fabrics #morrisfabric #goldenlily #onlinefabric #upholsteryfabric #curtainfabrics #quiltingfabric
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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#williammorris #strawberrythief #williammorrisdesign #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisdesigns #ovengloves #christmasgiftsideas #kitchenware #tablescape
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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#williammorris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #preraphaelite #willowbough #tablescape #placemats #floraldesign
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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#strawberrythief #williammorris #preraphaelite #morris #williammorrisdesign #totebag #summerdreaming #williammorrisfabric #coronado
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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#williammorris #morris #williammorrisfabric #williammorrisfabrics #onlinefabrics #countrykitchendecor #christmasgiftsideas #newwebsitelaunch