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William Morris Society in the United States
NewsletterOctober 1988



The Society will sponsor a number of events at the Modern Language Association's 1988 convention in New Orleans, 27-28 December 1988..
"Morris and Twentieth Century Social Thought" is the subject of the first session of papers, which will take place on 27 December. The speakers and their topics are: "Ananda Coomaraswamy and William Morris" by Larry Lutchmansingh (Bowdoin College), "Morris and the Mob" by Nancy Jane Tyson (University of South Florida), and "William Morris and the Frankfurt School" by Jeffrey Skablow (Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville). These talks will be followed by the Society's business meeting.
A second panel, devoted to "The Arts and Crafts" (in honor of the centenary of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society), is scheduled for 28 December. For this the speakers and papers are: "Yeats, the Cuala Press, and Morris's Legacy" by David Faldet (College of Idaho), "William Morris on the Americans" by Sandi Wisenberg (Art Institute of Chicago), "Bloomsbury and the Denial of Morris" by Victor Luftig (Yale), and "One Hundred Years Later: the current state of the Arts and Crafts in America" by Charlotte Oberg (University of Richmond). A cash bar will follow this session. For further information, including precise times and the location of meetings, consult the MLA Convention Program, usually distributed at the end of October.

"Victorian Anecdotes, Apocrypha, and Hallowed Clichés" is the theme of the Midwest Victorian Studies Association's annual conference, to be held in Chicago on 28-29 April 1989. Papers (8 to 10 pages in length) are sought on "legends, mythmaking, and gossip, and how they inform, or misinform, scholarly and popular views of the Victorian period." Submissions should be sent no later than 15 November to Michael Clarke, MVSA Executive Secretary, Department of English, Loyola University of Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626.

William S. Peterson's long-awaited A History of the Kelmscott Press, a companion volume to his detailed bibliography, will soon be in the hands of its publisher, Oxford University Press. Professor Peterson is now working on a bibliography of Sir John Betjeman, the poet laureate and admirer of all things Victorian (including Morris). He has also recently been named the new editor of Publications of the Bibliographical Society of America.
Society member Gay Daly's biography Pre-Raphaelites in Love will by published in January 1989 by Ticknor and Fields in the U. S. and by Collins in Great Britain in the spring. Her book looks at the marriages the Pre-Raphaelites made: examining first the intricate emotional and aesthetic linkages of paintings and romance, then going on to explore and consider what happened to artist and model as they attempted to make his fantasy last a lifetime within the confines of marriage. The artists are Rossetti, Millais, Holman Hunt, Burne-Jones and Morris; the marriage of William and Jane Morris is the subject of her final chapter. A great deal has been written about the romances of the Pre-Raphaelites, but much less about the fate of, for instance, Effie Millais once she finally reached what she thought would be a safe harbor with Millais, and this book was written to help fill such gaps. The author finds that these marriages were never the simple recipes for disappointment one might imagine given the extraordinary weight of romantic expectation they had to bear. Instead, they were rich and complicated mixtures of tenderness, grief, anger and hard-won understanding.

Margaret D. Stetz and Mark Samuels Lasner have collaborated on England in the 1880s: Old Guard and Avant-Garde, to be published (with an introduction by Jerome H. Buckley) this winter by the University Press of Virginia. Based on a major exhibition held at the University of Virginia Library in 1985, the book aims to give a picture of the literature, art and thought of the decade. The topics dealt with include the Aesthetic movement, the impact of Empire, the "Woman Question," and 'The New Fiction." Particular attention is paid to Morris and his circle, especially the Pre-Raphaelite artists and writers who lived on into the 1880s. A number of works by Morris--textiles, ceramics, and books (both poetic and political)--are described, highlighted by the autograph manuscript of A Dream of John Ball, the first page of which is illustrated.

If there is someone very special on your holiday list (perhaps even yourself!) you might consider giving them William Morris by Himself: Designs and Writings, edited by Gillian Naylor. Issued in the United States by the New York Graphic Society, this is a true rarity, a handsome "coffee table" book with content. It is well worth the $50.00 price tag for the splendid illustrations and for the generous, well-chosen extracts from Morris's poems, socialist tracts, letters, translations, and romances. There is much that has not been reproduced before: the interiors of Red House, Standen, and Kelmscott; working drawings for designs; stained glass windows--the majority shown in remarkably good color.

Norman Kelvin, the editor of Morris's Letters, has contributed "Patterns in Time: The Decorative and the Narrative in William Morris" to Nineteenth Century Lives, a festschrift for Jerome H. Buckley edited by Laurence Lockridge, Donald Stone and John Maynard. To be published in early 1989 by Cambridge University Press, the volume contains essays by Victorian scholars such as Richard Altick, Morton Cohen, Robert Kiely, J. Hillis Miller, Phyllis Rose, John Rosenberg, Margaret D. Stetz, and Carl Woodring.

The work of William Morris figured prominently in Legacies of Genius, a show of great books and manuscripts sponsored by sixteen Philadelphia libraries, held jointly at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania from 16 April to 25 September 1988. A section devoted to "The Art of the Book" contained two Kelmscott Press titles, the ubiquitous Chaucer and a copy of Poems Chosen Out of the Works of Robert Herrick, both splendidly bound by the Doves Bindery after designs by Cobden-Sanderson. These were flanked by an original pencil drawing by Burne-Jones for the Chaucer, inscribed by Sydney Cockerell, "Discarded design . . . for Chaucer's Knights Tale" and by two of Morris's finished ink drawings for initial letters used at the Kelmscott Press. Morris--or rather his house--appeared in another form, as an original platinum photograph, "Kelmscott Manor: In the Attics" by Frederick H. Evans. This was one of twenty-seven views of the Manor made by Evans in 1896. Very few complete sets are known; this one, now at Bryn Mawr, has an interesting history. It belonged first to the eccentric Boston photographer-collector F. Holland Day, whose publishing firm Copeland and Day issued several books imitative of the Kelmscott Press. Later it was owned by the Philadelphia bibliophile Harold Pierce, owner at the turn of the century of the finest Morris collection in America.

Paula Deitz, writing in the 4 September "Antiques" column of the Sunday New York Times, described the Victoria and Albert Museum's recent exhibition Textiles of the Arts and Crafts Movement, organized by Linda Parry. The show "goes well beyond the familiar designs of the William Morris workshop" to include the contributions of Morris associates such as his daughter May and Walter Crane, and commercial firms like G., P. and J. Baker and Liberty's. Deitz mentions two Morris works, the wool tapestry "The Forest," "a proper successor to medieval tapestries with wild and tame animals standing in a 'mille fleurs' border of individual plants and flowers," and the "Acanthus" embroidery, worked on by May Morris. Noting that "the great repositories of these period textiles are probably museums, particularly the V. & A.," Deitz pointed to a growing collecting interest in this area, paralleling the renewed vogue for the Arts and Crafts movement itself. While tapestries and curtains can be purchased--at quite staggering prices--from a number of London dealers, more modest examples of Morris &;Co. productions can be found at a New York specialist textile dealer, Cora Ginsburg. Ms. Ginsburg (819 Madison Avenue) had samples of the chintzes "Bird and Anemone" and "Rose and Thistle," each retaining its original Morris labels and priced "around $100."

Even though the "William Morris and His Circle" portion of the Estelle Laurence Doheny library will not be sold until May 1989, a number of items connected with the "circle" have found their way into the continuing series of auctions. On 17-18 October Christie's New York branch will offer a number of books by D. G. Rossetti, Ruskin and Swinburne. These include a set of The Germ in the original wrappered parts (from H. Buxton Forman's collection), D. G. Rossetti's The Early Italian Poets (1861) inscribed to Frederic George Stephens, one of the Pre-Raphaelite brothers, and Ballads and Sonnets (1881) presented to William Bell Scott.
An "association" of particular significance is Rossetti's 1870 Poems, also inscribed to William Bell Scott. It was Scott (and Alice Boyd, chatelaine of their Penkill Castle ménage) who suggested that Rossetti, fearing for his eyesight, return to the writing of poetry. This directly led to the 1869 exhumation of Rossetti's MS. book from his wife's grave and to the publication of Poems in April 1870. Cajoled by Rossetti, Morris wrote a favorable review of the book whose contents were, in part, inspired by Rossetti's love for Jane Morris.
Ruskin is represented by two autograph letters and a number of books--The Two Paths (1859) inscribed to Carlyle, and the copies of The Seven Lamps of Architecture and The Stones of Venice he presented to Dickens, The Swinburnes include The Queen Mother, Rosamund (1860), the Pickering issue of his first book, and Atalanta in Calydon (1865) with its binding designed by Rossetti. There are also two autograph letters from Swinburne, one of them a long response to criticism from a clergyman.
Next May's sale will comprise a nearly complete set of Kelmscott Press publications, many of Morris's other books, The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine and, most important and spectacular of all, Morris's calligraphic manuscript of the Aeneid containing illuminations by Charles Fairfax Murray after Burne-Jones's designs.

Society member Melinda Rosenzweig has brought to our attention a series of greeting cards reproducing Morris stained glass windows. These were advertised in the September 1988 issue of Professional Stained Glass, and may be ordered from that journal at 245 West 29th Street, New York, NY 10001. Some have the message "With Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year," others are blank. The cost is $6.50 ($1.00 postage additional) for each set of 4 or 5 cards. Curiously, while the advertisement gives the locations of the glass--mostly Christ Church, Oxford--it nowhere mentions Morris or Burne-Jones.


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