Morris, William

Portrait
Born: 1834 AD
Died: 1896 AD, at 62 years of age.

Nationality: English
Categories: Artists, Designers, Poets


1834 - Born on March 24th in Walthamstow, near London. An English designer, craftsman, poet, and early Socialist, whose designs for furniture, fabrics, stained glass, wallpaper, and other decorative products generated the Arts and Crafts Movement in England and revolutionized Victorian taste.

1847 - He went at the age of 13 to Marlborough College.

1853 - Morris went to Exeter College at Oxford, where he met Edward Jones (later the painter and designer Burne-Jones), who was to become his lifelong friend.

1856 -  After taking his degree, he entered the Oxford office of the Gothic Revivalist architect G.E. Street.

         - He financed the first 12 monthly issues of The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, where many of those poems appeared that, two years later, were reprinted in his remarkable first published work, The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems.

1859 - He married his model, Jane Burden, the beautiful, enigmatic daughter of an Oxford groom, but the marriage was to prove a source of unhappiness to both.

1862 - At the International Exhibition at South Kensington they exhibited stained glass, furniture, and embroideries. This led to commissions to decorate the new churches then being built by G.F. Bodley, notably St. Martin's-on-the-Hill at Scarborough.

1865 - After a serious attack of rheumatic fever, brought on by overwork, he moved to Bloomsbury in London.

1867 - As a poet, he first achieved fame and success with the romantic narrative "The Life and Death of Jason".

1868-1870 - All painful emotion is carefully avoided or smothered in prettiness, as it also is in his next work, in the seemingly endless stories of The Earthly Paradise, a series of narrative poems based on classical and medieval sources.

1871 - Morris and Rossetti took the Elizabethan manor house of Kelmscott in Oxfordshire.

         - Morris paid his first visit to Iceland, and the journal he kept of his travels contains some of his most vigorous descriptive writing.

1875 - Morris began his revolutionary experiments with vegetable dyes.

1876 - A sterner spirit informs his principal poetic achievement, the epic "Story of Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs", written after a prolonged study of the sagas (medieval prose narratives) read by Morris in the original "Old Norse".

1877 Morris gave his first public lecture, “The Decorative Arts” (later called “The Lesser Arts”).

         - Founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in an attempt to combat the drastic methods of restoration then being carried out on the cathedrals and parish churches of Great Britain.

1881 - After the removal of the firm to larger premises at Merton Abbey in Surrey, resulted in their finest printed and woven fabrics, carpets, and tapestries.

1882 - His first collection of lectures, "Hopes and Fears for Art", appeared.

1896 - A sea voyage to Norway failed to revive Morris' flagging energies, and he died that autumn after returning home, worn out by the multiplicity of his activities. He was buried at Kelmscott beneath a simple gravestone designed by Philip Webb.



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