WILLIAM MORRIS: His Life, Work & Friends by Philip Henderson

WILLIAM MORRIS: His Life, Work & Friends

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the first capacious biography of William Morris in ten years, and it amends and amplifies the original biography of his Victorian contemporary Mackail (who left the man himself in an emotional vacuum) and extends the sociopolitical orientation of E. P. Thompson's (both now out of print). An energetic if not volcanic figure, a prophetic visionary not only of the social egalitarianism he furthered in his later years but as a ""designer of civilized life and the' real originator of Art Nouveau,"" Morris was certainly a formidable achiever--and also nervous, excitable, evangelical and complex. Since his work was to a large extent the man, it is closely appraised here with the exactitude of the needlepoint he taught his wife: not only as it found expression through stained glass, wallpapers, woodcuts, textiles, dyes, but also in his essays, letters, prose romances, etc. Henderson also sees' him in relationship to the people in his life--constants from Burne-Jones and Rossetti whom he met at Oxford; also in the rather curious marriage to Jane Burden, a ""confirmed invalid"" who seemed to revive considerably in the presence of Rossetti--equally neurasthenic and too permanently attached to the household. In the later years, ones of militant socialism and strenuous political activity, Morris was to extend his concept of art to the total environment in which he lived and which he attempted to revise, and his art contains a strong moral structure....Henderson's Judicious, substantial biography predicates a certain interest in Morris to begin with although he has a particular relevance today.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1967
Publisher: McGraw-Hill