Special Collections Spotlight: William Morris papers

William Morris (1834-1896) was an English artist, author, socialist, and printer. He is best known for his association with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and as a central figure of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

Morris rose to popularity as the author of the epic poem The Earthly Paradise (1868-1870). Morris’s other well known works encompassed several genres and styles, including narrative poetry, fantasy and utopian novels, translations of Icelandic and other early works, essays, and short stories. These works include The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), A Dream of John Ball (1892) News from Nowhere (1893), and The Wood Beyond the World (1894).

Morris founded the design company Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, & Co. in 1861, which was restructured as Morris & Company in 1875. Morris and company specialisted in designing textiles, wallpapers, and furniture with the goal to remedy the pervasiveness of cheaply-made, mass produced furnishings that lacked any sense of beauty or style. Morris was also influential in the emergence of socialism in England in the nineteenth century, having founded the Socialist League in 1884.

In 1891, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press, which produced books modeled after fifteenth-century works. The press produced 53 titles during its 7-year operation. His 1896 edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, referred to as the Kelmscott Chaucer, is often regarded a pinnacle of book design.

The William Morris papers includes correspondence from Sydney Cockerell, Jane Morris, and William Morris, a manuscript by Stopford Augustus Brooke, as well as books from Morris’ personal library, the Kelmscott press, and others, as well as ephemera. Books printed at the Kelmscott Press and other works by and about William Morris can be found in our rare books collection.

View our online exhibit “How We Might Live: The Vision of WIlliam Morris”

Explore the subject guide, William Morris and the Kelmscott Press.

Browse the finding aid for the William Morris papers.

Check Out Previous Blog posts on William Morris.

Contact us for more information! 


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

What is a Subject Guide?

A Subject Guide, sometimes called a LibGuide, is a web page developed by library staff that focuses on a specific subject area. In any subject guide you may find databases relevant to the subject area, links to websites, journals and magazines, recommended books, library contacts for a specific subject, and much more.

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