How gorgeous is this? William Morris led the Art and Crafts movement during the 1860’s in Britain. His politics led him to be the leading representative of libertarian Socialism for a time, but his abiding love was for the arts and literature. Friends with the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, he married Jane Burden, who became the Jane Morris with whom Dante Gabriel Rossetti was besotted with, and with whom she had a long lasting affair during her marriage to William.
William Morris’s love for decoration led to the wonderful fabric designs that continue to be used world wide, rich with the imagery from nature and the brilliance of his use of colour.
What may be lesser known about the man was his deep interest in medievalism, and his gothic interest in fantasy led him to write ‘A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and All the Kindreds of the Mark ‘. This tale may have been the precursor of the modern fantasy genre so popular today. The story influenced the great J.R.R. Tolkein who referenced it as an important influence on his work of art ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
The following illustrations are by Edward Burne Jones for William Morris’s unfinished book of ‘The Earthly Paradise’. Morris carved most of the wood blocks himself, and these were rediscovered in the 1960’s.
This artist, writer, thinker reaches out from his time to my own, and inspires my own interests in medieval illumination and typographic interest alongside political aspirations of a shared human vision to incorporate the individual in a collective experience of beauty and wonder.