William Morris

William Morris (March 24, 1834 – October 3, 1896) was an English artist, writer, socialist and activist.

He was one of the principal founders of the British arts and crafts movement, best known as a designer of wallpaper and patterned fabrics, a writer of poetry and fiction and a pioneer of the socialist movement in Britain.

Born on his family's estate of Elm House in Walthamstow, he went to school at Marlborough College, but left in 1851 after a student rebellion there. He then went to Exeter College, Oxford after studying for his matriculation to the university. He became influenced by John Ruskin there, and met his life-long friends and collaborators, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and Philip Webb there as well. He also met his wife, Jane Burden, a working-class woman from Oxford whose pale skin, figure, and wavy, abundant dark hair were considered by Morris and his friends the epitome of beauty.

These friends formed an artistic movement, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They eschewed the tawdry industrial manufacture of decorative arts and architecture and favoured a return to hand-craftsmanship, raising artisans to the status of artists. He espoused the philosophy that art should be affordable, hand-made, and that there should be no hierarchy of artistic mediums.

Morris married Jane Burden at St Michael at the Northgate, Oxford, on 26 April 1859. They had two daughters, Jane (called Jenny), who developed epilepsy after a boating accident, and Mary (called May), who herself became a designer and writer.

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