HAPPY BIRTHDAY – William Morris, born 24 March 1834
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Today William Morris is remembered as a great designer, leader of the arts and craft movement and conservationist. However, in his day he was a popular poet and novelist. He was close friends with poet and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti (who had an affair with Morris’s wife Jane). One of my favourite homes in England is Kelmscott – the gorgeous Cotswold home where Morris designed furniture and textiles. He is buried in nearby Kelmscott Church.
William Morris was the founder of the Kelmscott Press, which produced beautifully made books – Chaucer, Shakespeare etc – with lovely bindings, engravings etc.
He adored Iceland and he translated Icelandic sagas. He wrote a Socialist novel, News from Nowhere; he produced essays, as well as incredibly long poems. He could churn out thousands of words a day! Perhaps that is why no-one reads his poems now? However, he was an innovative and clever writer, who deserves to be remembered for his literary output as well as for his work in design and the arts.
William Morris died of tuberculosis on the morning of 4 October 1896, aged 62.
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