William Morris

+ 1896

Born in United Kingdom.

The son of a wealthy businessman, William Morris enjoyed a comfortable childhood before going to Marlborough and Exeter College, Oxford. His admiration for the Pre-Raphaelites led him to be introduced to Dante Gabriel Rossetti whose influence can be seen on Morris's only surviving painting La Belle Iseult. In the 1860s Morris decided that his creative future lay in the field of the decorative arts. The 'Firm' (later renamed Morris & Co) was particularly well-known for its stained glass, examples of which can be seen in churches throughout Britain. Morris produced some 150 designs which are often characterized by their delightful foliage patterns. Among his many other works were Icelandic and classical translations, Sigurd the Volsung, The Pilgrims of Hope, and a series of prose romances which included A Dream of John Ball, News from Nowhere, and The Well at the World's End. Morris entered national politics in 1876 as treasurer of the Eastern Question Association. He soon became disillusioned with the Liberals and in 1883 joined the socialist Democratic Federation. After disagreements with the Federation's leader, H. M. Hyndman, he formed the Socialist League, and later the Hammersmith Socialist Society. During the 1880s he was probably the most active propagandist for the socialist cause, giving hundreds of lectures and speeches throughout the country. In 1890 Morris founded the Kelmscott Press. In all, sixty-six volumes were printed by the Kelmscott Press. Morris died at Kelmscott House on 3 October 1896.

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