William Morris

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William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Morris wrote and published poetry, fiction, and translations of ancient and medieval texts throughout his life. His best-known works include The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), The Earthly Paradise (1868–1870), A Dream of John Ball and the utopian News from Nowhere. He was an important figure in the emergence of socialism in Britain, founding the Socialist League in 1884, but breaking with the movement over goals and methods by the end of that decade. He devoted much of the rest of his life to the Kelmscott Press, which he founded in 1891. The 1896 Kelmscott edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer is considered a masterpiece of book design.

Born in Walthamstow in east London, Morris was educated at Marlborough and Exeter College, Oxford. In 1856, he became an apprentice to Gothic revival architect G. E. Street. That same year he founded the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, an outlet for his poetry and a forum for development of his theories of hand-craftsmanship in the decorative arts. In 1861, Morris founded a design firm in partnership with the artist Edward Burne-Jones, and the poet and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti which profoundly influenced the decoration of churches and houses into the early 20th century. His chief contribution to the arts was as a designer of repeating patterns for wallpapers and textiles, many based on a close observation of nature. He was also a major contributor to the resurgence of traditional textile arts and methods of production.


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