A Year in Books/Day 178: William Morris by himself

  • Title: William Morris by himself Designs and writings
  • Editor: Gillian Naylor
  • Year Published: This Edition/2004 (Barnes & Noble Books)
  • Year Purchased: 2004/2005
  • Source: Barnes & Noble clearance rack
  • About: This book is a great reminder that William Morris was also a writer, and not just an artist/designer. Although his aesthetic is instantly recognizable, his words are not. That’s a shame. William Morris by himself goes a long way to rectify that, but I hope that his diverse writings somehow find a wider audience. As the title well relates, you’ll find a blend of his art and words (including excerpts from letters, essays and poems) in this pretty little edition. They have also inserted brief biographical paragraphs for the sake of cohesion. If you have ever been drawn to one of his textiles or wallpapers, why not take the opportunity to learn more about the full oeuvre of the man?
  • Motivation: I’ve long been intrigued by Morris.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 83: “We have taken a little place deep down in the country, where my wife and children are to spend some months every year, as they did this-a beautiful and strangely naif house, Elizabethan in appearance, though much later in date, as in that out of the way corner people built in Gothic till the beginning or middle of the last century. It is on the S.W. extremity of Oxfordshire, within a stone’s throw of the baby Thames, in the most beautiful grey little hamlet called Kelmscott.”
  • Happiness Scale: 8 1/2

14 thoughts on “A Year in Books/Day 178: William Morris by himself

    • True and true. His writings, personal and private, give us access to a side not known by the general public. Most people just see him as a textile designer, which is truly a shame. I would love to have tea there. It sounds fabulous.


      • It wasn’t that fabulous. I was warned off the coffee and had to do the little old lady tea and scones. I would rather have been looking into the bottom of a pint of Guinness around the corner.


      • I’ve never turned down a Guinness, ever, but I really adore good tea and scones. At least you do not have a dearth of tea rooms in your part of the world.


      • Too bad for you. Do you miss it much? I will be visiting there next year with my mother (with the husband to perhaps join us for a bit), to celebrate what many people consider a milestone birthday. I don’t care about that, but any excuse for a holiday.


      • I like it there. I like the people. Most seem to be under the cloud of old, entrenched political oppression, and freer and more cynical, or just intelligently mistrusting, because of it; which suits me. “I felt at home there, under the lachrymose sky, where I shared with the gods a view of mankind.”

        A holiday. Is that possible for writer for whom life is work?


      • Got it now! I agree. Wherever I am, I take in all of my surroundings, as a writer and not a ‘regular’ person. Everything, every person, every experience is stored away as creative fodder, for some unknown future use. If your mind works that way, you cannot ever truly get away.


  1. Well, I had to google him since I first thought this was in reference to the William Morris Agency. He sounds like a remarkable man! Thank you for this post; sadly, I would never have heard about him otherwise.


    • He was a singular man, to be sure! He is definitely worth reading about. You’ve probably seen his designs for products such as textiles and wallpapers, in the Arts and Crafts style. They are still wildly popular, but represent only a small amount of his talent.


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