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William Morris; the Early Years

6th August 2019

There’s lots that we love to blog about when it comes to William Morris; from his designs, life work, family and life story. The list goes on. There is so much that we can talk about that we never get bored! We hope you don’t either, but if there’s ever anything you want us to write about, be sure to let us know on our social channels – we’d absolutely love to hear from you! To understand someone, you can begin with where they came from. In this blog we wanted to discuss William Morris early years.

“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

The literary and artistic talents that he became famous for, began at an early age. The passions that he begun in his childhood would remain for the rest of his life; nature, architecture, art.

His grandfather was from Wales, but left in the later half of the 18th Century to Worcester. His mother, Emma and his father, William, moved to Walthamstow in 1833 with their two daughters, Emma and Henrietta. Then they had their third child – William – on the 24th March 1834.

Morris early years, though privileged, allowed him to build up his social beliefs that he campaigned for and pushed for change on throughout his life. His childhood coincided with the working man’s struggle with the affects of industrialisation. Many of his later achievements actually came from his desire to see change with his socialist ideology. Following William’s birth, his parents had two more girls and four more boys. He is known to have had a close relationship with Emma during their younger years, but historians have found little evidence of this in their adult life; of course, that doesn’t mean they didn’t keep in touch, just that evidence hasn’t remained/ been recorded. His youngest brother Edgar joined him in his work at Merton Abbey.

Due to a successful investment in copper shares, when his father passed away, he left them with a large sum of money. The shares were from the West Country copper mine. At £1 a share for 272, these soared to £800 per share. With over £200,000 (when you consider inflation to today’s money, that would be even more) is childhood was very financially comfortable, as was his adult life. He was able to attend university and further educate himself, giving him the freedom to explore his passions instead of choosing a job based on salary alone. He was very self aware of this and the fact it didn’t fully compliment his socialist ideals. He said, “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, industrialisation, the one thing he hated more than anything, was the thing that brought his family prosperity. It was a source of embarrassment for Morris, historians have noted.

He began school in 1848 which is also the year that the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood began. He began school at Marlborough College which was a new school and lax in approach. His education appears at this time to be mainly self taught at the library. This continued throughout his life; teaching himself multiple skills in the arts.

In 1853 when Morris attended Oxford University, the city was still a medieval city. The architecture he admired in the city inspired a career and then a passion throughout his life to rebel against modernising the buildings. He is known to have said that these years were the happiest of his life. Formative years for his art, passions and friendships that he kept throughout his life; including Edward Burne Jones.

Studying theology at Exeter College, himself and Burne-Jones initially wanted to be clergymen. During to influences at university, Morris entered into a career in architecture.

Many of his ideas were created at this time. An opinionated man, he passionate believed in everything he wrote or spoke about. He was therefore able to change opinions of those in society at the time, through both his art and writing. So there we go – William Morris early years. There’s so much more we could have discussed, so much to his life and childhood, it can’t all fit in one blog!

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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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🌿 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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