William Morris

William Morris ( born March 24, 1834 in Walthamstow, † October 3, 1896 in London) was a British painter, architect, poet, craftsman, engineer and printer. He was still one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement and early founders of the socialist movement in Britain.

  • 2.1 scripture Generic works


Childhood and education

William Morris was born on March 24, 1834 in Elm House in Walthamstow in London, then a small village outside the city. His father was a partner in a stock brokerage firm and left behind after his death in 1847 the family a large fortune. The childhood of William Morris was happy, but he was not yet his artistic talent. At the age of 13 years, Morris visited the newly established boarding school Marlborough College, which put much emphasis on freedom and less paid attention to discipline. There he learned needlework and came up with the High Church movement in contact. He left the Marlborough College with the intention to take up the study of theology and to become a priest.

With the spring trimester 1853 William Morris went on to study at Exeter College, University of Oxford, where at that time the doctrine and discipline were not taken very seriously. His tutor said William Morris from every literary taste and certified him no particularly high intelligence.

William Morris was inspired by the city of Oxford, but the university system he valued less. In the first semester, he became friends with Edward Burne -Jones, who remained his closest friend while studying, because neither had much in common with their fellow students. Burne- Jones made Morris with his former classmates from the King Edward's Grammar School in Birmingham known who studied at Pembroke College, and in whose company he felt comfortable.

There he was influenced by the ideas of John Ruskin and graduated alongside Burne-Jones with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, Philip Webb and friendship. There he also met Jane Burden, his future wife, who came from the working class. Her pale skin and the coppery red hair were Morris and his friends as a sign of great beauty, in the portraits of Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti was expressed later.


The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Arts movement was introduced by Morris and his friends. They rejected industrial designs and architecture, and sought a return to individual handwork; they saw the craftsmen as artists.

William Morris was first hired in an architect's office, but then felt more and more attracted to interior design and decoration. Along with Webb, he built the Red House in Bexleyheath, Kent, his wedding present for Jane. This also took his design ideas to first figure.

William Morris married Jane Burden on April 26, 1859 in the St. Michael 's Church, Oxford. The Red House, two daughters were born, Jane Alice (Jenny ), born in January 1861 and Mary ( May ) ( March 1862-1938 ), editor of the works of their father was.

Later they lived in the summer house Kelmscott Manor, near Lechlade in Gloucestershire, now the Society of Antiquaries of London is owned and open to the public. Between 1871 and 1874 Dante Gabriel Rossetti lived there, who chose Jane as a model for portraits and with whom she had an affair. Morris escaped this situation to Iceland, where he acquired knowledge of Icelandic legends. This later formed the basis of his novels and seals.

In 1861 he founded the firm Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. were produced together with Gabriel Rossetti, Burne -Jones, Madox Brown and Philip Webb, in the furniture, wall decorations and glass paintings. Rossetti and Madox Brown left in 1874 the joint company; Morris, however, remained and worked there all his life. The company changed however, from time to time her name. The most famous is Morris and Company. His designs are still sold today under license from the London Company Sanderson and Sons and Liberty.

In 1877 he founded a society for preservation of historic structures ( Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings ). This resulted indirectly the National Trust.

William Morris earliest experiments in the production of hand-knotted carpets dating from 1878, when he set up looms in the grounds of Morris & Co., 26 Queen Square, Bloomsbury. Within a year he had equipped the former coach building his Kelmscott House in Hammersmith with larger looms and employed a team of six women for carpet weaving. As Morris & Co. in 1881 by Merton Abbey moved in Surrey, it was then possible to make larger bridges and carpets, for which, however, retained ( to distinguish it from his machine- woven products ) the name " Hammersmith ".

There were about 100 manufactured carpets according to the designs of Morris and Dearle. Approximately 1890 Morris was less concerned with the manufacture of carpets. The then resulting new patterns were largely the work of his assistant John Henry Dearle ( 1860-1932 ). However, there was a transition period in which both worked together in various art forms, particularly for large orders. Morris employed many talented artists and artisans. John Henry Dearle worked for Morris & Company from 1878 until his death in 1932. He was the main designer for the repeat pattern of the company and was an art director after Morris ' death. Him the pattern " Honeysuckle " ( honeysuckle ) is attributed and Kate Faulkner designed "Vine & Pomegranate " (wine and pomegranate)

When in 1892 the larger of the Ardabil carpets were offered in London for sale, commissioned the Victoria and Albert Museum, the designer William Morris, to inspect the carpet. After he reported the carpet was " of singular perfection ... and consequently beautifully ," he urged the museum to buy it.

William Morris and his daughter Mary May were among the first British socialists. They put together with Eleanor Marx, Edward Aveling and Engels the basis for the socialist movement. In 1883 William Morris joined the Social Democratic Federation, and in 1884 he organized the Socialist League. News from Nowhere, one of his better known novels, describes the utopia of an ideal socialist society.

Morris ' fairy tale novel The Wood Beyond the World exerted a strong influence on CS Lewis Narnia books. JRR Tolkien's work also shows dependencies of Morris ' representations of early Germanic life, such as in The House of the Wolfings or The Roots of the Mountains.

William Morris describes his ideal of a society in his utopian novel News from Nowhere (Eng. News from Nowhere ). In this world, people work only for pleasure and give away their high quality hand work on the ones that they value. This desire Morris tried through various initiatives to meet and always had to find that its high quality products approached only the wealthy layer.

In January 1891, William Morris founded the Kelmscott Press in Hammersmith in London, to produce high quality books. He designed printing types as its " Golden Type ," which was influenced by frühvenetianischen printer Nicolas Jenson. The decorations followed medieval woodcuts of the 15th century. The selection of paper and printer ink as well as the sense of the entire printed product made ​​the Kelmscott Press the most famous private printing of their time. Until it closed in 1898, 53 editions of books were produced in it. Today, the issue of the Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer is considered, also called " Kelmscott Chaucer ," as one of the most beautiful books ever produced. The Kelmscott Press has influenced many subsequent private printers.

William Morris died in 1896 and was buried in the cemetery at Kelmscott in Oxfordshire.

The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow shows a selection of his works.


Scripture Generic works

  • The Haystack in the Floods
  • The Defence of Guinevere, and other Poems (1858 )
  • The Life and Death of Jason (1867 )
  • The Earthly Paradise ( 1868-70 )
  • The Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Nibelungs (1876 )
  • Love is Enough, or The Freeing of Pharamond (1872 )
  • A Dream of John Ball (1886 )
  • A Tale of the House of the wolfing and All the Kindreds of the Mark (1888 )
  • A King 's Lesson ( 1888)
  • The Roots of the Mountains (1889 )
  • News from Nowhere (1890, Germany News from Nowhere 1900, ISBN 3-7466-0048-0 ) News from Nowhereland. A science fiction. Only authorized edition translated from English by Paul Seliger. Seemann, Leipzig 1901

William Morris continued to translate a number of medieval and classical works, including collections of Icelandic sagas, Virgil's Aeneid (1875 ) and Homer's Odyssey (1887 ). His reflections on the book arts are posthumously in an edition The Ideal Book. Essays and Lectures on the Art of the Book collected ( University of California Press 1982, German translation, the ideal book. Essays and lectures on the art of beautiful book, Göttingen 1986).