Morris, William

Morris, William

William Morris

1834 - 1896

William Morris was known to be energetic, versatile, and industrious for he accomplished many projects throughout his career. He was a popular and prolific Victorian poet and translator of Northern mythology. As an artist-craftsman he invented and revived lost techniques for printing, and for creating textiles, embroidery and stained glass. By opening his own textile factory, he became a successful entrepreneur in the decorating and manufacturing business. During the last two decades of his life he became an ardent Socialist, giving hundreds of lectures on the topic throughout Britain. Despite various ventures, Morris had a lasting enthusiasm for medievalism and Arthuriana.

Morris's interest in the Arthurian legends first became apparent while he was a student at Oxford, from 1853-1855. At this time Arthuriana had been popularized by Tennyson and Southey's edition of Malory's Morte d'Arthur. One of Morris's favorite poems to read aloud dramatically to Edward Burne-Jones was Tennyson's "The Lady of Shalott." By this time Tennyson had also published "Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere," "Morte d'Arthur," and "Sir Galahad." Burne-Jones and Morris expanded their reading circle when, in 1855, they joined a literary brotherhood called the Set. In September of 1855 Morris and Burne-Jones bought a copy of Robert Southey's 1817 version of Malory's Morte d'Arthur. This Southey edition was popular among the Pre-Raphaelites; Rossetti declared in 1857 that the world's two greatest books were The Bible and Morte d'Arthur.

Malory's version of Guinevere

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