Bonfire of the vanities

William Morris – pattern designer of genius

Bonfire of the vanities

William Morris Textiles

by Linda Parry

V&A Publishing, $69.99 hb, 304 pp, 9781851777327

Of the innumerable books on the design work of William Morris (1834–96) that have appeared since the 1980s, the one that has remained the best and most informative is Linda Parry’s William Morris Textiles (1983), published early on in her career as a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Since then, there has been much new research on Morris and many exhibitions of his work (at least six in Australia alone). In 1996 he was the subject of a centenary retrospective at the V&A, for which Parry was the curator and editor of the exhibition book. Two major biographies by Fiona MacCarthy – William Morris: A Life for our Time (1994) and The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination (2011) – add substantially to our understanding of Morris and his firm, Morris & Co. Interest in this remarkable Victorian – poet, novelist, artist, socialist reformer – appears to be stronger than ever, and demand for Morris-designed textiles and wallpapers is insatiable; many remain in production either as reproductions or adaptations. This new, extensively updated and rewritten version of William Morris Textiles benefits from all these later publications and exhaustive new research, deftly contextualised by Parry.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Published in October 2013, no. 355
Christopher Menz

Christopher Menz

Christopher Menz is a former Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. He has published on the design work of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, and is a regular contributor to ABR.

More in this issue « Rupert What Maisie Knew »

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.