When Morris was dying, one of his doctors diagnosed his disease as “simply being William Morris, and having done more work than most ten men.” Today, most people think of Morris as a masterful and hugely influential designer, and a leading figure in the Arts & Crafts Movement. During his lifetime, he was also regarded as a major poet, and a ground-breaking translator of Icelandic sagas. In the 1880s, he became a committed revolutionary socialist and was an important influence on the further progress of British socialist thinking, well into the 20th century. Many socialist intellectuals and trade unionists looked to Morris for their inspiration. Of course, he came from a privileged middle-class background, but does it matter if he seems to have been a bit of a champagne socialist? Come the revolution, we’ll all be able to enjoy the products of Morris & Co …… A truly extraordinary character.

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