MORRIS, William

MORRIS, William
   UK artist and writer whose greatest fame rests on his work as a designer of furniture and fabrics. His efforts to reform the prevalent vulgarity of mid-Victorian taste and to preserve standards of craftsmanship placed him in radical and irresolvable conflict with the basic tendencies of the industrial era, then in the first vigour of its youth. This conflict was variously expressed in his writing. In his early poems, collected in The Defence of Guenevere (coll 1858) and The Earthly Paradise (coll in 3 vols 1868-70), WM created the literary equivalent ofPre-Raphaelite paintings: romances of febrile charm and phthisic delicacy. The relation of these poems to their own time is one of studied and disdainful avoidance. In life such avoidance was to be denied him. He was - at least emotionally-cuckolded on an Arthurian scale by his friend andmentor, Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). He became involved in POLITICS through his efforts, beginning in 1878, to save historical buildings from demolition and unwise "restoration". This involvement led him, remarkably quickly, to an active and enduring commitment to socialism.It was from this unusual (for its day) perspective of orthodox Marxism that WM wrote his UTOPIA, News from Nowhere, or An Epoch of Rest (1890 US; rev 1891 UK). Written in immediate response to Edward BELLAMY's Looking Backward,2000-1887 (1888), the novel propels its dreaming narrator from the England of WM's day into a perfected England from which all traces of poverty, squalor and industrial unsightliness have been effaced, an England that bears notable similarities to the bucolic dream-landscapes of his early poetry. As a work of fiction, this most translucent of utopias exhibits all the clarity, grace - and narrative force - of WM's best wallpaper designs. Where the book is most visibly Marxist in inspiration, as in the capsule history of a proletarian revolution in Chapter XVII, it is also most densely and compellingly imagined. Its influence on later utopian writing has been negligible, and on GENRE SF still less, since WM's vision is so relentlessly PASTORAL, looking back to an idealized Middle Ages - which he also represented in the earlier and structurally related socialist romance, "A Dream of John Ball" (in A Dream of John Ball, and A King's Lesson (coll 1888), later issued in its own right as A Dream of John Ball (1915 US)) - rather than to the urban, technologically advanced "future" of common consensus.During the composition of News from Nowhere the Socialist League, which WM had founded in 1884 and funded thereafter, dissolved as a result of an excess of democracy. This event encouraged, by reaction, WM's tendency to make his later writing into a species of highly ornamented wish-fulfilment from which the less savoury odours of daily life were artfully exorcized. The prose romances of his last years - such as The Wood Beyond the World (1894) and The Well at the World's End (1896) - have the same reluctantly valedictory air as his most defiantly escapistpoetry but little of the poetry's hypnotic harmony. He had become, once more, "the idle singer of an empty day". It is these late romances, however, through their acknowledged influence on C.S. LEWIS, J.R.R. TOLKIEN and lesser writers of the SWORD-AND-SORCERY subgenre, that havemost impinged on sf.WM also translated Icelandic sagas and several Greek and Roman classics.
   Other works: The Life and Death of Jason (1867), a poem; A Tale of the House of the Wolfings, and All the Kindreds of the Mark (1889), an historical romance with fantasy elements; The Roots of theMountains (1889); The Story of the Glittering Plain (1891); Child Christopher and Goldilind the Fair (1895); The Water of the Wondrous Isles (1897); The Sundering Flood (1898). Alfred NOYES assembled WM's early work in poetry and prose as The Early Romances of William Morris (coll 1907), ; with poetry cut, vt Golden Wings, and Other Stories 1976 US including the eight stories which originally appeared in Oxford and Cambridge Magazine throughout 1856, some being separately published after his death: The Hollow Land (1856; 1897 chap US), Golden Wings (1856; 1904 chap US) andGertha's Lovers (1856; 1905 chap US). Later collections include: Prose and Poetry (1856-1879) (coll 1913); Early Romances (coll 1924); Selections from the Prose Works (coll 1931), Three Works by William Morris: A Dream of John Ball, The Pilgrims of Hope, News from Nowhere (omni 1968 US); Svend and his Brethren (coll 1909 chap US); The Juvenilia of WilliamMorris, with a Checklist and Unpublished Early Poems (coll 1983 US).
   About the author: Much has been written about WM. Studies of interest include: William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary (1955) by E.P. THOMPSON; WilliamMorris, the Marxist Dreamer (trans 1978) by Paul Meier; William Morris: A Reference Guide (1985) by G.L. Aho.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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  • MORRIS, WILLIAM — (1873–1932), U.S. talent agent. Born in Schwarzenau, Germany, Morris immigrated to America in 1898. He initially went to work for Marc Klaw and Abe Erlanger as a theatrical booking agent, and then as an independent vaudeville agent at a time when …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Morris,William — Morris, William. 1834 1896. British poet, painter, craftsman, and social reformer best remembered for his wallpaper and furniture designs and his poetry, including the epic Sigurd the Volsung (1876). * * * …   Universalium

  • Morris, William — born March 24, 1834, Walthamstow, near London, Eng. died Oct. 3, 1896, Hammersmith British painter, designer, craftsman, poet, and social reformer, founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Born into a wealthy family, he studied medieval… …   Universalium

  • Morris, William — (1834 1896)    Born to a wealthy family from Walthamstow, Northeast London, he was educated at Marlborough College and Exeter College, Oxford, and was elected fellow in 1883. He was one of the founding members of the firm of Morris, Marshal,… …   British and Irish poets

  • Morris, William — ► (1834 96) Escritor, pintor y teórico británico. Difundió un tipo de decoración con motivos vegetales, que constituye uno de los más claros orígenes del modernismo. Escribió poemas de un medievalismo romántico, expresado de un modo personalísimo …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Morris, William — (1834 1896)    Poet, artist, and socialist, b. at Walthamstow, and ed. at Marlborough School and Oxf. After being articled as an architect he was for some years a painter, and then joined in founding the manufacturing and decorating firm of… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Morris, William — (1861 1936)    Born in Boston, Massachusetts, the actor is not to be confused with his contemporary (1873 1932), the dean of the golden age of vaudeville, of the same name. The actor Morris began his stage career in 1876 with the Boston Museum,… …   The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater

  • MORRIS, WILLIAM —    poet, art worker, and Socialist, born in Walthamstow, near London, son and heir of a wealthy merchant; studied at Oxford, where he became the lifelong bosom friend of Burne Jones; of an artistic temperament, he devoted his working hours to… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • MORRIS, William — (1834 1896)    English SOCIALIST and writer whose views influenced the growth of ROMANTICISM and anti industrial sentiments …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Morris, William — (1786 1858)    Born in Scotland. Emigrated with his parents to Canada in 1801, and engaged in business in Montreal; served in the militia in the War of 1812, and in 1816 settled in Perth. Member for Lanark in the Upper Canada Assembly, 1820 1836 …   The makers of Canada

  • Morris William Travers — (* 24. Januar 1872 in London; † 25. August 1961 in Stroud) war ein englischer Chemiker. Er studierte Chemie am University College und wurde dort 1903 Professor. Ab 1906 war er in Bangalore der erste Direktor des neu gegründeten Indischen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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