William Morris (1887)
William Morris (1834-1896) is best known as a textile designer, but was also a writer, socialist activist and architectural conservationist.
Morris was born at Elm House in Walthamstow in Essex. From a wealthy middle class family, Morris' father was a financier, working as a partner in a bill broker firm in the City of London. Later aged 6, the family moved to Woodford Hall which was surrounded by 50 acres of land, however, with the unexpected passing of his father in 1847, the family sold the family home moving into the smaller home of Water House.
Watler House - childhood home
Morris proceeded to study classics at Oxford University but it was during this time that sparked an interest in Medival history and architecture. It was here that he met Edward Burne-Jones with whom they shared a life long frienship and collaborative relationship. After university, he married Jane Burden, with whom he later had two daughters. He was known to be a loving father. In later years, both daughters recount their childhood as being idyllic.
Red House was the result of Moriss desiring to have a new home for his new family, based in Bexleyheath where Morris undertook much of the interior decorations taking a year to build. His friend, Edward Burne-Jones referred to his new home as "the beautifullest place on earth."
Red House in Bexleyheath
Morris had firm views in politics, and besides being one of the most iconic designers, he was also the founder of the Socialist League. There was in incident where he was arrested in 1885 due to disordlerly conduct as part of a socialist demonstration.
The formation of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. in 1861, with six partners, was the start of a vision where the core aim was to bring decoration as one of the fine arts, with anti-elitist mindset. For extra help, the firm would employ boys from the Industrial Home for Destitue Boys who would then be trained as apprentices.
With continued success, by 1870 Morris had become a public figure, and having decided to disband the firm which was replaced by Morris & Co., he gained complete control to immerse ihis interest in textile dyeing. 1877 saw the opening of their store at No.449 Oxford Street. The company soon became a household name.
449 Oxford Street - Morris & Co.
The William Morris Society, to celebrate and continue his legacy, was founded in 1955. Firmly recognised as one of the cultural icons of the Victorian era, his designs continue to gain popularity, influencing creatives today as well as those who simply enjoy his artistic wonders.