WILLIAM MORRIS AND HIS WORLD by Ian Bradley

WILLIAM MORRIS AND HIS WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Morris, the revolutionary aesthete, is a thicket for the biographer, but Bradley manages a tight weave of his twists of thought, his varied labors, his prodigious personality in a brief book that, moreover, sparkles with anecdotes, quotes, and pictures. The young Morris' passion for nature and for things medieval bears issue first in art--notably his own fabric and wallpaper designs for the Morris & Co. workshops--and then in his synthesis of art and society, his call for articles of simple beauty and utility and proud, individual craftsmanship. He is restored to vigor after his wife's defection--languidly lovely Jane, a Pre-Raphaelite icon, lived with Rossetti under his nose--by a stay in stern, self-sufficient, communal Iceland, which also inspires his uncompromising communism. But he is always aware of the contrast between his comfortable digs and his posh clientele, on the one hand, and the working-class life he agitates to improve--knowing that he does not speak the workingman's language. Bradley rightly calls him a visionary, and allots his final pages to Morris' influence on others: he was, not least, a pioneer environmentalist, founder of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (against fake ""restoration"") and active opponent of outdoor advertising. A spirited, sympathetic, exceptionally well-rounded study.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Scribners