This essay is going to look at the life of William Morris and his working practices by analyzing his writing and historical and social background, and discuss to what extent Morris’s actual practices reflected his views on social and artistic reform.
William Morris and the Victorian Britain
William Morris is one of the most famous British designers of the 19th century. Although his reputation today relies on his textile designs and decorative arts business, he was actually far more than just a designer. He was a poet, writer, socialist, and activist. Morris was born in Walthamstow, a rural area in East of London, on 24th March 1834. His father, William Morris Senior was a bill broker, and the Morris family was relatively wealthy in the society at the time (Harvey and Press, 1996).
Morris was born into the period, which is referred as the Victorian era. This period is highly significant in British history because it is when Britain took its first step towards modernization by the industrial revolution and the expansion of the British Empire. The society at the time was changing rapidly because of the invention of machineries. It enabled cities to grow more rapidly and become more urban. The invention of steam power was led by the birth of the stagecoaches and steam ships, and it changed the whole situation of the society by improving communication links (Sussman, 2009). Although the industrial revolution contributed to the development of the society, it certainly had a negative effect as well. As a result of the industrial progression and the urbanization, Britain saw a rapid increase in population, and it stimulated the serious problem of the widening gap between rich and the poor. (Sussman, 2009)
The Victorian industrial society and Morris’s ideal
The Victorian era was definitely the era of massive progress in terms of economical and industrial development, however, behind the glory of the modernization, there was opposition happening at the time
References: Burdick, J. (1997). William Morris / Redesigning the world, London: Tiger Books International Duchess of Hamilton, Hart, P. and Simmons, J. (2006). The Gardens of William Morris, London: Frances Lincoln Limited Great Exhibition (1851). Official descriptive and illustrated catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the works of industry of all nations (Volume II), London: Spicer Brothers Harvey, C. and Press, J (1996). Art, Enterprise and Ethics / The life and works of William Morris, London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. Henderson, P. (1967). William Morris – His life, work and friends, London: Thames and Hudson Members of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society (1893). Arts and Crafts essays, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons Meynell, E. (1947). Portrait of William Morris, London: Chapman & Hall Sussman, H. I. (2009). Victorian technology: invention, innovation, and the rise of the machine, California: ABC-CLIO Further reading Faulkner, P. (1973). William Morris – The critical heritage, London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd.