William Morris

Date of birth: 1834 — Date of death: 1896

Designer. Son of William Morris (1797-1847) a London financier, and his wife, Emma (1805-1894). Morris was educated at Marlborough College and entered Exeter College, Oxford in 1853. He was a leading figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. Morris met Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) at Oxford. They both initially intended to enter the church, but became increasingly interested in the visual arts and literature. Their career choice changed to becoming artists. Morris began to work as an architect but then took up painting to work with Rossetti on decorating the Oxford Union Building. Morris married Jane Burden (1839-1914) in 1859, for which Philip Webb (1831-1915), in collaboration with Morris, designed the Red House at Bexleyheath in Kent. Assistance from artists such as Burne-Jones led to the formation of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. in 1861 (which later became Morris & Co.). The original firm was made up of Peter Paul Marshall, Charles Faulkner (1833-1892), Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Webb and Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893). Burne-Jones's series of windows for St Philip's Cathedral, Birmingham is one of the finest examples of Morris & Co. stained glass. Morris wrote a substantial amount of poetry including The Defence of Guinevere and Other Poems (1858) and The Earthly Paradise (1866-70). He was made president of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society in 1891 and master of the Art-Workers' Guild in 1892. In 1891 Morris set up the Kelmscott Press, producing the outstanding The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer in 1896, the year of his death.