HOMELife & WorksAbout the SocietyMemberhip & DonationsPublications Events  •  Links

William Morris Society in the United States
Newsletter January 1998


UPCOMING SOCIETY EVENTS

Nineteen ninety-eight looks to be a busy year for the William Morris Society in the United States. So far, we have scheduled three talks (one in New York, two in Washington) and the usual sessions at the Modern Language Association convention. A visit to the Burne-Jones exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is tentatively planned for early June and several events for Fall are in the works. Details of location and contacts are given in the list of 1998 William Morris events in the United States.

First off, on the evening of Thursday, 19 February, Marcia Allentuck will speak at the Fales Library at New York University on "Two Collectors of William Morris: Estelle Doheny and William Noble." (This is the talk announced for last October, postponed because of changes at the Grolier Club.) The topic is an apt one and the venue&emdash;one of the country's best libraries of Victorian literature, based on the acquisitions of a single collector, Courtney Fales&emdash;is entirely appropriate. Allentuck deals with as great a contrast in Morris-enthusiasm as can be imagined. Doheny, wife of a California multimillionaire oilman and rancher tainted by the Teapot Dome scandal, had the means to pursue her passion for books to the fullest, ending up with an extraordinary library crowned by a copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Her Morris holdings, which included Morris's calligraphic manuscript of the Aeneid and a Kelmscott Chaucer printed on vellum, brought more than $2 million when sold by Christie's in 1987. Noble, on the other hand, was a working-class Englishman sometimes on the brink of poverty, devoted to Morris for his Socialist principles, but what he acquired was also substantial. In discussing these two figures our speaker will make use of information given to her by Doheny's secretary and the fruits of research in archives in the U.S. and the U.K. Marcia Allentuck&emdash;a collector herself&emdash;is Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at City College, the City University of New York. She has lectured widely, and her publications include The Achievement of Isaac Bashevis Singer (1969) and an edition of John Graham, System and Dialectics of Art (1971).

With the help of two different parts of the Smithsonian Institution we have been able to capture two well-known experts for February and March lectures in Washington. The Smithsonian's recently-inaugurated Masters Program in the History of Decorative Arts will co-sponsor John Wilton-Ely's talk on "Prophet and Crusader: John Ruskin and the Visual Arts." This is set for Monday, 23 February. Wilton-Ely, Emeritus Professor of Art at the University of Hull and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, is the author of numerous books (including the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Western Architecture) and curator of noted exhibitions. "Through his voluminous and perceptive writings, characteristic teaching, and personal influence Ruskin had," says Wilton-Ely, "a powerful impact on the visual arts greater than any other single personality, in addition to his role as a social reformer with decisive influence on Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement."

Wendy Kaplan probably needs no introduction to many readers of this newsletter. It is impossible to think of scholarly work on 19th and 20th century design without her name coming up, first as co-author of the seminal Arts and Crafts Movement, then as organizer of "The Art that is Life": The Arts and Crafts Movement in America at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (also principal author of its award-winning catalogue), and, most recently, curator of the fabulous travelling show from the Wolfsonian, Designing Modernity. Associate Director for Exhibitions and Education at the Wolfsonian&emdash;the Miami museum of decorative and propaganda arts, founded by Michael Wolfson, now absorbed into the Florida state university system&emdash;Kaplan will be in Washington on 26 March in conjunction with the Freer Gallery of Art 's Art for Art's Sake exhibition. The subject of her talk, "Art for Art's Sake: The Aesthetic Interior," means we should expect much on Whistler, the later Pre-Raphaelites, and, possibly, some American aesthetes.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's major upcoming Burne-Jones exhibition (described later in these pages) opens on 4 June. So that members can get an early view, we have tentatively scheduled a group visit for the following Saturday, 6 June. We hope to induce one of the Met's curators to accompany us&emdash;or another expert on the artist&emdash;and follow the tour of beauty with a social get-together. Members living within striking distance of New York will receive a flyer giving final date/time/meeting place; the details will also be available on the William Morris Home Page and from Mark Samuels Lasner (methods of communication at end of newsletter).

MLA 1997: TORONTO

Although attendance was a trifle less than in other cities, those who came to Toronto for the Modern Language Association annual convention (27&endash;30 December 1997) surely lucked out. There was, wonder of wonders, only a trace of snow and temperatures rising to 32° Fahrenheit (despite warnings of a severe storm) and the papers and conviviality were excellent. For the record, there were two sessions. "What's New with William Morris?" with Mark Samuels Lasner as chair, featured David Latham (York Univ.), "How We Write and How We Might Write"; Michael North (The Grolier Club), "What's New with William Morris: How Differing Concepts of Originality Came Between William Morris and Aubrey Beardsley"; Edward Steven Shear (Univ. of Rhode Island), "From the Ideal Book to the Virtual Book: William Morris in the Age of Digital Media"; and Robin Waugh (Memorial Univ. of Newfoundland), "Descriptions of Women and William Morris's Colonial Ideal in The Volsungs and Niblungs and in Sigurd the Volsung." Margaret D. Stetz (Georgetown Univ.) presided over "William Morris On View and For Sale" with presenters Sandra Alfoldy (Concordia Univ., Montreal), "Morris Mania: Desire and Daily Life"; Pamela S. Loy (UC-Santa Barbara), "'How strange it seems and new!': Memorabilia and William Morris"; Diana Maltz (Stanford Univ.), "William Morris: Seer of the New Museology?"; and Kevin R. Swafford (Univ. of Rhode Island), "Morris the Commodity: Toward a Historical and Dialectic Understanding."

Most of the session participants (and several others) were able to attend the memorable dinner put on for our benefit (and theirs) by the committee of the William Morris Society of Canada. This repast&emdash;plenty to drink and eat&emdash;was held at the home of William Hall, past-president of the WMSC, to whom we extend our gratitude.

MLA 1998: SAN FRANCISCO

The ways of the Modern Language Association are such that just as soon as one convention ends you have to come up with topics for the next one. As a harbinger of the New Year the routine is almost up (or down) to the level of the "ball" in Times Square; well, let's hope a little less repetitive. After concentrating strictly on Morris in 1997 it's time to broaden our sights. For San Francisco 1998 we seek proposals for two sessions.

The first, "New Views of the Pre-Raphaelites," would likely take in all manner of things to do with that loosely-designated group. The results of feminist analysis, for example; a resurrection of a minor poet, perhaps; the unusual interest the group took in the animal kingdom (the wombat, par exemplar) who often turn up in poem or design; the recent editions of letters and biographies&emdash;all fit within the possibilities.

This year marks not only the centenary of Burne-Jones's death but also the passing of his one-time protege Aubrey Beardsley. To mark the occasion&emdash;and to deal with a subject of increasing interest&emdash;the second session is titled "The Late Victorian Book: In Honor of Beardsley, Burne-Jones, and Morris." Again we welcome ideas that go beyond the confines of "literature" to encompass bibliography, publishing history, illustrations (of course), and cultural studies. Proposals for either panel go no later than 15 March to Mark Samuels Lasner, William Morris Society, P.O. Box 53263, Washington, DC 20009, Biblio@aol.com.

FELLOWSHIP REPORT

The first three recipients of Fellowships from the William Morris Society have reported on their progress.

Chatham Ewing, a graduate student at New York University, received one of the first awards. He writes in part: "The Society gave initial funding to my project which entailed producing a facsimile of the Kelmscott Chaucer for the World Wide Web and possibly CD-ROM. The first portion of the project is now complete and will be available for viewing on the Fales Library web page by February, 1998. (For the address send e-mail to Chatham Ewing at cbe2866@is4.nyu.edu.) Essentially, this project is a look at how authentic a reproduction the digital medium can produce, and what the benefits of such translation could be. Work on a prototype&emdash;a version of Gothic Architecture, printed by the Kelmscott Press in 1893&emdash;shows that digital editions could easily and rather inexpensively serve as adjuncts to the actual text in a rare book room, by simultaneously increasing access (through either CD or WWW technology) and preserving the materials from unnecessary handling. However, the best digital photographic facsimile fails to capture what some would mundanely call useful information, and what Walter Benjamin might rather more poetically call the 'aura' of a book. The historical reality of a unique object provides us with a window into the past which can't completely find its way onto a computer screen."

Regina Hansen, Assistant Professor of Humanities, Boston University College of General Studies , described her "Report Progress on Wood Beyond the World Video" as follows: "Due to the October 1st birth of my son Dominic, completion of 'The Wood Beyond the World' video has been postponed to June of 1998. Script, puppets and sets for the production have been completed, as has the recording of the dialogue and videotaping of all interior scenes. Still to be taped are scenes involving the harbor of Langton-on-Holm and all scenes taking place within the actual 'Wood.' These will be finished by late January. The editing process will begin in early March. Visual artist Michele Hansen&emdash;my sister&emdash;has produced a contrast between Walter's world and the enchanted, lush and over-abundant Wood to which he travels. Michele has cast Langton-on-Holm in the neutral colors and simple lines of Morris's beloved Iceland, while using Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Morris's own designs to create the Wood and its denizens. The female characters are straight out of Rossetti and Burne-Jones while Walter and his father are bearded, simply-clad Norsemen. In adapting Morris's story to video, I have made some necessary changes. Although I have not eliminated Walter's romantic escapades, the sexuality has been toned down for a general audience. Let's call it 'PG' rather than 'PG-13.' At the same time I have streamlined the plot, bidding farewell (with a sigh) to both the Bear-Folk and the city of Starkwall. I would like to thank Michele Hansen, voice artists Matt Gage and Kate Burr, technicians Rich Howley and Tom Miller, and composer Milton Gurin for their work. Special thanks to the Morris Society in the U.S. for much needed funding."

Working for a Ph.D. in aesthetics at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Kevin Melchionne notes that his research has nearly reached the writing stage: "My project is a critical reconstruction of the theory of craftsmanship spawned by Ruskin and Morris and underwriting the contemporary studio crafts movement. In contrast to other modernist disciplines like painting and sculpture, which have re-invented themselves many times over, the modern studio crafts are marked by a continued commitment to the views formulated at their inception in the late nineteenth century. In other traditions, ideological shifts accompany stylistic shifts; an important part of writing the history of these disciplines is coming to terms with the relationship between what is said and what is done. The curious anomaly of the studio crafts is that, despite stylistic changes, assumptions about the nature of handwork, craftsmanship, mechanical production, and the history of the decorative arts have been handed down with little revision. These assumptions have congealed into what I call the 'folk wisdom' of the studio crafts. The wholesome ring of this folk wisdom, along with its vagueness, has hampered serious consideration of the most ambitious and problematic claims of the modern Studio Crafts movement. I am attempting to bring crafts criticism beyond this folk wisdom by isolating the legitimate moral and aesthetic values in Morris's thought, separating them from the vague truisms that have plagued discussions of artisanal work in the industrial era."

The Fellowship for 1998 has been awarded to Shannon L. Rogers, a Ph.D. student in Modern European History at Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation, entitled "New Wine in Old Bottles: Making Popular History in Nineteenth Century Britain," explores the relationship between historical fiction and popular notions of history. Shannon has been examining the books read by "historical" authors, including Morris, in order to evaluate the veracity of their fictional accounts of the past. This has led her to an ancillary project&emdash;an inventory of William Morris's library. Since she has already gathered information on Morris's library available in the United States, Rogers's next step is to pursue archival records found only in Britain, specifically Sydney Cockerell's unpublished diaries, held by the British Library. The Society is pleased to help fund this endeavor and looks forward to the finished catalogue, which should be of infinite use to Morris scholars.

ARTS AND CRAFTS SOCIETY OF CeNTRAL NEW YORK LECTURES

The Arts and Crafts Society of Central New York has announced two events which will interest members.

On 23 February British design historian Alan Crawford will deliver a slide lecture on "Burne-Jones, Stained Glass and Laughter." Part of the Fourth Annual Arts and Crafts Lecture Series, sponsored by the Department of Fine Arts and the School of Architecture of Syracuse University and the Arts and Crafts Society, this will take place at Gifford Auditorium, HBC Building, Syracuse University.

"Keeping the Fire Alive: China Painting and the Arts and Crafts Movement" is scheduled for 11 March, also in Syracuse. Ellen Paul Denker, ceramic art historian, is the speaker. Using biographies of some prominent china painters of the period, including Adelaide Alsop Robineau, Kathryn Cherry, Mary Chase Perry, Louise McLaughlin and others, Denker will describe and define china painting as a major form of artistic expression for women during the Arts and Crafts period in America. This has a different venue, the Curtin Auditorium, Onondaga County Public Library, 447 S. Salina Street, Syracuse, NY, 7 p.m., and is sponsored by the Onondaga County Public Library and the Arts And Crafts Society of Central New York. Both lectures are free and open to the public. For further information send e-mail to bowcap@mail.dreamscape.com.

MORRIS CHAIRS ACQUIRED BY DELAWARE ART MUSEUM

Last November, in what amounts to a surprising coup, the Delaware Art Museum purchased two major works of Pre-Raphaelite art at Christie's in London. The extraordinary pair of medieval-style chairs are directly linked to the museum's Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.

The whereabouts of the two rare and important chairs had been unknown for decades; they had not been seen in public for more than 130 years. They were designed by William Morris in 1856 for his flat in Red Lion Square, and painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti with help from Burne-Jones in the period of late 1856&endash;early 1857. The design and decoration represent the intersection of painting and literary sources favored by Wilmington collector Samuel Bancroft in the context of the pioneering experiments of Pre-Raphaetite artists in the realm of the "minor" arts. These previously lost icons of the Pre-Raphaelite movement were re-discovered by Christie's earlier this year when the owners&emdash;descendants of the purchaser of Red House in 1867&emdash;made an inquiry through one of Christie's U.S. regional offices. (An article in the 23 November, 1997 New York Times pointed out that the family used the chairs as ordinary furniture and did not entirely realize what they had. The Delaware Art Museum paid £333,000 for the pair &emdash;we'll leave you to convert that into dollars!) In a press release Museum Director Stephen Bruni said, "No single object that has ever been made available better fit the Delaware Art Museum, its collections, and its future. As well as enhancing our Pre-Raphaelite collection, the chairs will enable us to explore extremely important links between the English and American Arts and Crafts movements."

BURNE-JONES AT THE MET

It is hard to believe, but apparently true, that the first American retrospective devoted entirely to the work of Edward Burne-Jones will only now take place&emdash;a century after the artist's death. Edward Burne-Jones opens at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York on 4 June. The exhibition covers every aspect of Burne-Jones's diverse oeuvre, represented by more than 200 paintings, drawings, and tapestries, as well as furniture, stained glass, and jewelry, culled from museums and private collections throughout the world. Much of what will be displayed has never been seen in North America, making this show a "must see" for anyone who can get to New York between 4 June and 6 September.

Indeed the highlights suggest that the Met show may even surpass the last major U.K. exhibition, organized by the Arts Council as long ago as 1975. On view will be several of the extraordinary Holy Grail tapestries (1895&endash;96, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery), considered the finest of Burne-Jones's designs in the medium. The large-scale paintings from the final years include The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon (1880&endash;98), which remained unfinished at the artist's death and which, because of its enormous size, has not heretofore left the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico.

A fully illustrated catalogue, written by John Christian, Stephen Wildman, and Alan Crawford, will accompany the exhibition, which has been organized by Laurence Kanter, Curator, and Dita Amory, Assistant Curator, both of the Robert Lehman Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art. After leaving the Metropolitan (good news for those in Europe) Edward Burne-Jones will travel to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (17 October 1998&endash;17 January 1999) and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris (1 March&endash;6 June 1999).

MORE EXHIBITIONS

The Work of Archibald Knox: Over 130 works by this Arts and Crafts designer&emdash;known for his contributions to the wares offered by Liberty's at the turn of the century&emdash;will be on display in a travelling exhibition. The show incorporates 55 designs for textiles, metalwork and wallpapers from the Silver Studio and 80 objects gathered from private collections. This is a rare chance to see so much of Knox's work in the United States. The dates are: Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago (January 1998); The Wolfsonian, Miami (March 1998); then back to the U.K. at Middlesex University (June 1998).

The Morgan Library's To Observe and Imagine: British Watercolors and Drawings, 1600&endash;1900 concentrates primarily on Pre-Victorian examples. But the exhibition (14 January&endash;3 May 1998) has examples by Ruskin, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, and other Pre-Raphaelites and (a bit surprising in a drawings show) "a selection of art nouveau book bindings, including several by Aubrey Beardsley." From 20 May through 30 August the Morgan will also have a.k.a. Lewis Carroll, one of three New York shows devoted to the Alice and White Rabbit man who also died in 1898 (the others are at the Grolier Club and at the Fales Library at N.Y.U.). For details contact: Pierpont Morgan Library, 29 East 36th Street, New York, NY 10016, Tel. (212) 685-0008.

Inspiring Reform, Boston's Arts & Crafts Movement, which began last year at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College, comes from 6 March&endash;6 July to the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. This is the most important gathering of Boston Arts and Crafts materials since the Museum of Fine Arts show a decade ago; it explores, among other themes, Morris's influence, felt pointedly in a selection of books printed by Copeland and Day, D.B. Updike, and Will Bradley. Contact: Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560, Tel. (202) 357-2700 (Smithsonian information). There is a substantial, fully documented and illustrated catalogue which only suffers marginally from being "overdesigned" under the influence of what is supposed to be Arts and Crafts typography: Inspiring Reform: Boston's Art's and Crafts Movement, edited by Marilee Boyd Meyer. Published by Abrams, price $75.00.

THE CHICAGO ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT

December 1997 marked the centenary of the founding of the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society. Morris Society member Sherry Richmond was responsible for organizing a city-wide celebration which brought together several local entities for a month-long spate of exhibitions, lectures, tours, and concerts.

The focal point was The Chicago Arts and Crafts Movement, on view until 7 December at the magnificent Second Presbyterian Church, a national landmark with stained glass windows by Tiffany and Morris & Co. which has been described as the "crown jewel of the Arts and Crafts movement in the Midwest." The exhibition, curated by Richmond, honored the 1897 founding of the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society at Hull-House, the famous Chicago settlement house, and highlighted Chicago notables including Frank Lloyd Wright, Ellen Gates Starr, John and Frances Glessner and architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, who designed the Church's interior. The show also featured objects by Chicago movement artisans and designers. Other participants in the coordinated series of exhibitions were the Art Institute of Chicago (the permanent collection of 20th-Century Decorative Arts in Gallery 358 included newly installed Arts and Crafts silver and a recent acquisition, a copper plaque by Gustav Stickley), Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (Art and Labor: Hull-House and the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society, which traced the evolution of art and craft programs at Hull-House, highlighting the relationship between social issues and aesthetic reform), and Glessner House (showing the Glessners "at home" and their aesthetic taste and milieu).

NOTES ON PAST EXHIBITIONS

The following exhibitions produced catalogues of lasting value. All had some sort of link to William Morris.

Bradley: His Look&emdash;The Graphic Art of Will Bradley, held from 6 September through 30 October 1997 at Craftsman Farms, offered a comprehensive look at the "craftsman of letters" who was famous both for his drawings and his artful use of typography. His use of well-designed lettering, while following in the footsteps of Morris, broke new ground in taking the principles of craftsmanship and applying them to the commercial marketplace. Fittingly, the exhibition devoted considerable space to Bradley's art after 1900, when he specialized in advertising brochures and commercial publications such as the Ladies' Home Journal, eschewing Art Nouveau for a personal idiom influenced by Colonial printing. But it was Bradley's work of the 1890s&emdash;the posters, for the Chap-Book and his own Bradley, His Book, and the books, such as Fringilla, or the Black Riders, which earned him the sobriquet "America's Aubrey Beardsley." This side of Bradley was, happily, present in force. One learned a lot from this show, including the fact that, like Morris and Gustav Stickley, Bradley saw his role to be a designer in many media, including wallpaper and furniture as well as books. And although most think of him as a "Boston" or "Chicago" artist, Bradley spent considerable parts of his life in New York, New Jersey, and California. The exhibition was curated by Anthony Bambace (author of Will H. Bradley: His Work), Vince Mancuso, and David Lowden. The catalogue, $10.00 postpaid from Craftsman Farms and designed in a quasi-evocation of Bradley, has excellent annotated entries and some illustrations. Contact: Craftsman Farms, 2352 Route 10-W, Box 5, Morris Plains, NJ 07950, Tel. (201) 540-1165.

Land of Enchantment: British Fantasy Illustration in the Golden Age was the recent exhibition at the Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. On display from 8 October 1997 through 31 January 1998 were illustrations from legends and myths, folk and fairy tales, horrific literature, and works on anthropomorphized animals and flowers, all from about 1850 to 1930. The artists included (as one would expect) Rackham, Dulac, Jessie M. King, Harry Clarke, Beatrix Potter, Richard Doyle, and Walter Crane. Morris was represented by a copy of the edition of The Doom of King Acrisius published by Russell, New York, in 1902, an Earthly Paradise tale illustrated with reproductions of paintings by Burne-Jones. A printed booklet and a Web page contain the same illustrated check-list. Contact: Kimberly C. Weatherford, Catalog Librarian, Trinity College, 300 Summit Street, Hartford, CT 06106, Tel. (860) 297-2244, fax (860) 297-2251, kimberly.weatherford@mail.trincoll.edu, http://www.trincoll.edu/~library/main/watkin.html.

From 28 March through 31 August 1997 the Textile Museum in Washington, DC hosted Avant Garde by the Yard: Cutting Edge Textile Design 1880-1930. This was a relatively small show, very appealing in the museum's rather intimate galleries. It was also, if one read the labels and catalogue, a highly intellectual interpretation of what some would simply call attractive home furnishings. The designs featured were presented as responses to the tensions between art and industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some designers, we learned, viewed the products of mass production as sacrificing quality and originality to quantity and convention; others in the decorative arts came to see the machine as a potential ally. The textiles came from the technology that was emerging at the time, yet the forms represented were taken from nature. Morris received special mention as the originator of the belief that a pattern might make use of historical design models, yet speak to and of its own time. The Evenlode wallpaper (piece lent by the Cincinnati Art Museum, the exhibition's originator) was prominently featured. The catalogue, with very good color plates, costs $25.00. Contact: The Textile Museum, 2320 S Street NW, Washington, DC 20008, Tel. (202) 667-0441.

Finally Morris figured in Salome Dances, Mars Invades: The English 1890s at Northwestern University's Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, 27 May&endash;31 December. Kelmscott Press books and ephemera appeared in the "Book Arts and Artists" portion of this all-encompassing 1890s exhibition. Other sections took in Wilde, Beardsley, The Rhymers' Club, Decadent Fiction, Imperialists and Socialists, The New Woman and Women Writers, and the nicely phrased Comrade Loves of the Indeterminate Sex. There more than 200 items were listed in a quite detailed (if not always accurate) check-list; there was also an illustrated brochure, shaped along the lines of Ricketts's narrow binding for John Gray's Silverpoints. Both publications, written by Scott Krafft, the Special Collections reference librarian/bibliographer, can be had&emdash;apparently gratis&emdash;from the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University, University Library, 1935 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208, Tel. (847) 491-3635, spc@nwu.edu.

ROSSETTI BOOK FROM PRESS OF APPLETREE ALLEY

Several years ago the Ellen Clarke Bertrand Library at Bucknell University issued as part of an ongoing series, Printing as Art, containing Morris and Cobden-Sanderson letters from its collection along with a hard-to-find essay on typography by George Bernard Shaw. The book was elegantly printed and bound by the Press of Appletree Alley. Now there is a companion volume, The Rossettis: Brothers and the Brotherhood. The text consists of unpublished correspondence of Dante Gabriel and William Michael Rossetti, covering two distinct periods. The letters of Dante Gabriel were written at the latter stages of the Pre-Raphaelite movement (1861&endash;68); William's letters, from 30 years later, reflect on the movement and provide historical perspective. Alicia Faxon, a Society member and author of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Abbeville Press, 1989), in writing the introduction, describes the correspondence in the Lafayette Butler collection as revealing "much of the life, art, literature and concerns of the Rossetti family, and of their friends and colleagues." As with all books in the Bertrand Library Series, the volume is edited by Mary Chenoweth Stratton, professor of English, Indiana University. Even apart from the interesting contents this is an attractive, appealing example of modern fine printing, with dramatic wood engravings by Linda Holmes, a member of the Society of Wood Engravers, and a binding designed by master bookbinder Don Rash to complement the hand-printed text. The Rossettis: Brothers and the Brotherhood is set in monotype Van Dijck and printed on mould-made Somerset paper. The edition consists of 145 copies, price $175.00 (Pennsylvania residents add six percent sales tax; domestic shipping $4.50; overseas customers are requested to remit in dollar drafts on a U.S. bank and to pay shipping, $6.50 surface, $30.00 air.) Contact: The Press of Appletree Alley P.O. Box 608 Lewisburg, PA 17837, Tel. (717) 824-7064.

PETER STANSKY ON WILLIAM MORRIS

William Morris and Bloomsbury, Peter Stansky's 1996 lecture has now been published by Cecil Woolf, London. In this illustrated pamphlet Stansky delves into the multiple connections between Morris and the Roger Fry-Virginia Woolf-Lytton Strachey circle, pointing out the similarities and differences between Morris and Co. and the Omega Workshops. The interior decoration of Charleston, Vanessa Bell's country house in Sussex, he concludes, would not have been possible without Morris. Bloomsbury Heritage Series no. 13. Order from Cecil Woolf, 1 Mornington Place, London NW1 7RP, Tel. (171) 397-2394.

"A William Morris Diary II," the continuation of Stansky's review of the Morris centenary year, appears in the January 1997 number of the Book Club of California's Quarterly News-Letter. The article, which picks up where "A William Morris Diary I" (printed in the Fall 1996 issue of the same publication) left off, focuses on events which occurred in the latter half of 1996. Stansky begins with the Being William Morris exhibition at the Morgan Library, praised both for its beautiful layout and its balanced presentation of the various aspects of Morris's activities. Next come two small exhibitions in California which focused on the Kelmscott Press: Kelmscott and Beyond: William Morris & Modern Fine Printing in the new San Francisco Public Library and 'A Beautiful Book': William Morris and the Kelmscott Press at the Clark Library in Los Angeles. The former included examples of work by British and American printers influenced by Morris and demonstrated the continuing vitality of Morris's legacy. The latter (apparently unannounced and only open to the public upon request) used original drawings done for the Press to give a nice sense of how Morris worked with his illustrators Burne-Jones, Crane and Gaskin. In December Stansky revisited New York to participate in "William Morris in Our Time," sponsored by the City University of New York, and to see William Morris: The Collector as Creator, the Grolier Club exhibition focused primarily on books Morris actually owned and used. The final event chronicled in the "Diary" is another trip to Southern California for Celebrating William Morris, the exhibition at the Huntington Library made up of items from the wonderful Berger collection (the "diarist" also spoke at the allied seminar). Reading about all these varied events is a pleasure, evoking memories of a year in which William Morris seemed to be everywhere. We have only one question: what will Professor Stansky do with all those frequent-flyer miles he surely acquired in the multiple trans-Atlantic and transcontinental jaunts?

THE CRAFTSMAN ON CD-ROM

Students and enthusiasts of turn-of-the-century design, literature, and architecture have long known how hard it is to come by original sources. This is especially true for magazines and, as was mentioned in these pages a year or so back, of all the periodicals from "our" particular part of the past none is more difficult to find than The Craftsman, Gustav Stickley's "Bible" of the American Arts and Crafts movement. Now help is at hand&emdash;at least for those willing the spend the money or who have access to libraries with big budgets. Interactive Bureau, LLC will publish in February 1998 The Craftsman on CD-ROM, the only complete electronic version. Described as "Three years in the making," this multi-disk, fully searchable archive incorporates all 183 issues (October 1901&endash;December 1916). It replicates every article, illustration, and advertisement exactly as they were originally published by Stickley. A radical new kind of research tool, the CD-ROM retains the page proportions and graphic integrity of the original (allowing users to print out every page in color or black and white) but is also searchable by issue, article, word, or phrase. The CD-ROM offers efficiency and increased accessibility to all 27,000 pages of the magazine. Going beyond mere reproduction, the digital form also incorporates a number of unique features. "The New Craftsman Index" by Arts and Crafts scholar Marilyn Fish provides an annotated chronology of 3,639 abstracts, electronically linked to the corresponding articles. There are also original essays by Marilyn Fish, Beverly K. Brandt, David M. Cathers, Shax Riegler, and Stephen Gray which cast contextual light on the role this great periodical played in the American Arts and Crafts movement and examine its influence on the larger social, environmental, educational, and aesthetic issues of the age.

Wonderful it all sounds (and yes, we'd like to get our hands on it). But then there is the price. Admittedly it's cheaper than purchasing a complete 15-year run of the original magazine, if one could buy one; and we all understand that marvelous search technology and specially written essays cost money. But! $995.00 for individuals, $1495.00 for "entities" (corporations, schools, libraries) does seem a bit steep. For less you can get a CD-ROM with all 39 volumes of the Cook and Wedderburn Ruskin from Cambridge University Press, and each of those volumes has perhaps four to five times as many words as in any volume of The Craftsman. Still interested? Contact: Interactive Bureau, LLC, 251 Park Avenue South, 10th floor, New York, NY 10010, Tel. (212) 292-1900, craftsman@iab.com.

N.B. According to the publisher the following own&emdash;or will purchase&emdash;copies of The Craftsman on CD-ROM: Art Institute of Chicago, Dartmouth College, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), University of California-Berkeley, University of Virginia, and Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

KELMSCOTTS AT THE WALTERS

The Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore is famed for its collection of Gothic and medieval art, illuminated manuscripts, Asian ceramics, and 19th century paintings. But did you know that its library, formed in large part by William Walters, a bibliophile with generally Parisian tastes, contains seven Kelmscott Press titles? We didn't, until details came from William Noel, the new curator of manuscripts and rare books, following a visit from members of the Grolier Club. The titles include Poems by the Way, The Sundering Flood, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, and the Chaucer. A number of the books are in elaborate bindings. Contact: William Noel, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, Walters Art Gallery, 600 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, Tel. (410) 547-9000, wgnoel@eros.com.

CALL FOR PAPERS: THE POETICS OF THE WORKING CLASSES 1830-1900

Submissions are invited for a special issue of Victorian Poetry on "The Poetics of the Working Classes 1830-1900." The editor is our member, Florence Boos.  Sought are concrete studies of the many forms of verse composed by and for working-class Britons, including broadsides, ballads, songs, periodical poems and books, as well as broader critical examinations of issues such as notions of "class," common attributes of working-class literature, effects of region, issues of publication and distribution, and changes in literacy and taste during the century. This volume will also appear on-line, and we welcome appropriate visual and audio materials&emdash;readings, for example, of dialect poetry and songs. Please send inquiries or abstracts soon, and completed essays by 1 June 1999 to Florence Boos, Department of English, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA  52242, florence-boos@uiowa.edu.

CONFERENCES

The Lewis Carroll Society of North America (founded 1974) will commemorate the centenary of Carroll's death at its Spring meeting on Saturday, 28 March, from 2 to 5 p.m., at the Fales Library (in the Bobst Library) of New York University, 70 Washington Square South, New York City. The program will  include presentations by Nina Demurova, Genevieve Smith, and Donald Rackin. For information about the meeting, other events, or the Society,  contact the Secretary: Ellen A. Luchinsky, 18 Fitzharding Place, Owings Mill, MD 21117, eluchin@erols.com

"Victorian Worlds: Anthropologies, Ethnicities, Geographies" is the subject for this year's Northeast Victorian Studies Association's 27th annual meeting, to be held at Smith College the weekend of 3&endash;5 April. Papers will consider such questions as "What happens when the Empire writes back?" and the roles of georgraphy, race, ethnicity, and place within Greater Britain itself. For details contact: Patricia Saunders-Evans, Department of English, Rutgers University, Murray Hall, New Brunswick, NJ 08903 , Tel. (613) 968-4103, fax (908) 932-1150, psevans@rci.rutgers.edu.

The annual meeting of the Midwest Victorian Studies Association, in St. Paul, MN on 24&endash;25 April, is to be devoted to "Edwardian Britain: Epilogue or New Chapter?" Speakers will explore questions of continuity and change between "Victorian" and "Edwardian" Britain in history, art, music, literature, politics, and economics. Contact: Keith Welsh, Webster University, 470 E. Lockwood Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63119, kwelsh@pop.websteruniv.edu.

IN THE PRESS

Member Adela Spindler Roatcap's "To Pleasure the Eyes: The Manuscript Books of William Morris," was published in Letter Arts Review, Volume XIII, Number 2. Her article, one of a series she has written on Morris's calligraphy, featured splendid color and black and white reproductions of drawings and manuscripts by Morris, and included several quotations from Morris and his contemporaries which give the piece an intimate feel. Roatcap highlighted Morris's passion for the works which he illustrated and remarked upon his perseverance: "One cannot but wonder at Morris's ability to learn a craft and transform it into an art.ÉWhat is more amazing is Morris's ability to pursue so many tasks concurrently."

The October/November 1997 issue of British Heritage contained an article by Noël Riley entitled "William Morris: A Man for All Time." The piece was structured around a time-line of Morris's life, and mentioned points at which his attention turned to the various talents and interests that he cultivated. Riley gives special attention to the formation and work of "The Firm" and its impact on all levels of late 19th-century decor&emdash;from commissions for the Victoria and Albert Museum to more popular and inexpensive furniture and wallpaper designs. The article's illustrations reflect the wide range of media that Morris employed in his endeavors, and include a striking drawing of Jane Morris by D.G. Rossetti. Riley provides information on opportunities to explore Morris's legacy when visiting Great Britain, and even lists the U.K. and U.S. branches of the William Morris Society (as well she should!).

It's amazing where those Pre-Raphaelites will turn up! Reading the 16 November 1997 issue of the New York Times Book Review we almost fell over (but we were sitting down&emdash;it was Sunday morning) on seeing a full-page advertisement for Bantam, Doubleday, Dell which incorporated a figure from one of Burne-Jones's Days of Creation. Instead of carrying the world in her arms she was clutching a bevy of just-published children's books. Pretty tacky. At least several titles had a connection to the appropriate century: Thumbelina and three dumbed-down "Portraits of Little Women" synthesized from Louisa May Alcott.

Jim Graham, executive director of Washington's Whitman-Walker Clinic (providing community-based AIDS care to the DC area), was profiled in the Washington Post "Home" section on 12 June, 1997. Graham is a longtime collector of American Arts and Crafts furnishings and Mission oak. His apartment is furnished liberally with Stickley originals, including several Morris chairs; his office has Stickley reproductions, a gift from a thoughtful donor. Graham found many of his collectibles in flea markets and antique stores for relatively low prices. He laments the surge in popularity of Arts and Crafts, which has made the pieces he so loves inaccessible to all but those willing to pay what he considers very, very high prices. (This can be traced partially to the purchase, by Barbra Streisand, of a Stickley sideboard for $363,000 in 1988.) Graham's passion for Arts and Crafts balances well with his day job, which keeps him busy with a very real modern-day concern: the spread of AIDS. "My ability to move away from that into a different environment has helped me to survive," he says. "Fortunately, I've been able to compartmentalize my life."

THE SPIRIT OF MORRIS LIVES!

What follows was passed on to us via the Internet. Sadly, we don't know the name of the "poster" but hope he or she won't mind our reprinting what was, we understand, a portion of a public message. Don't be troubled by the techno-speak; it's the final comment which counts.

"Currently attending the Seybold San Francisco conference on electronic publishing and pre-press. Here are a few snippets of news: É John Warnock, CEO of Adobe Systems, was the first speaker at the conference. His theme was the importance of separating content data from formatting for the purposes of republishing to a variety of formats, and in making this point FrameMaker was in fact the only Adobe software he chose to cite. [Editor's note: This is the program used to create this newsletter.] É Finding myself sitting next to John in a session on SGML/XML, I decided it would be a good idea to check out a rumor, namely that FrameMaker 6.0 will change the basis of [the program's] text composition algorithms to at least a partial implementation of Herman Zapf's 'hz' algorithms for line layout. John confirmed this and humorously added that this would 'advance digital typography to the standards of the fifteenth century.'"

"Standards of the fifteenth century"? Mr. Warnock, what have you been reading? Sounds like William Morris to us.

 

A SHOPPING GUIDE TO WILLIAM MORRIS

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
(800) 468-7386
William Morris Pocket Calendar, #K9780K/$8.95.

The Smithsonian Catalogue
(800) 322-0344
William Morris Silk Tie, #2016/$30.00 · Kensington Gardens Wool Rug, #3340/$95.00 (1'11"¤3'11"); $220.00 (2'3"¤8'); $250.00 (4'¤6'); $440.00 (6'¤9'); $875.00 (7'11" ¤10'11") · William Morris Initial Pins, #4041/$27.50.

The Cottage Shop
(800) 965-7467
English Handpainted Enamel William Morris Clock, #E1302/$168.00.

Past Times
(800) 621-6020
Morris Orchard Table-Mats and Coasters, #9619/$29.95 (4 mats); #9616/$12.99 (4 coasters); #9617/$39.95 (4 mats, 4 coasters) · Strawberry Thief Wool Tunic, #2203/$149.50 · William Morris Throw, #6567/$49.95 · Honeysuckle Sewing Basket, #7296/$19.99 · Morris Owl Tea Towels, #5457/$12.99 · Morris Tapestry Silk Tie, #1963/$29.99 · Morris Tapestry Fire Screen, #9382/$199.50 · Strawberry Thief Paperweight, #9710/$9.99 · Strawberry Thief Brass Umbrella Stand, #0983/$49.95.

Home Decorators Collection
(800) 245-2217
Morris Woodpecker Tapestry, #11008/$229.00.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
(800) 225-5592
William Morris Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition catalogue, #029368/$60.00 · Windrush Wool Challis Scarf, #41329-450/$78.50 · Windrush Bangle, #30125-302/$50.00 · Windrush Locket, #30080-301/$50.00 · Windrush Card Case, #30125-321/$50.00 · Windrush Ties, #40394-405 (burgundy); #40394-425 (navy); #40394-430 (plum)/$34.50 · Orange Tree Tapestry, #41266/$140.00 · Acanthus Leaf Pillow, #41349/$99.00 · Orange Tree Pillow, #41350/$79.00 · William Morris Acanthus Leaf Linens: Apron, #41354/$28.00 · Place Mats, #41352/$39.50 · Napkins, #41351/$29.50 · Table Linens Set, #41353-499/$59.50

Art & Artifact
(800) 231-6766
William Morris Design Wool Rug: #F688/$280.00 (3'¤5'); #F688/$450.00 (4'¤6'); #F1087/$1000.00 (6'¤9'); #D900/$600.00 (2'8"¤12'); #D687/#1500.00 (8'¤10'); #D687/$2100.00 (9'¤12') · William Morris Grapevine Tie, #F1010/$45.00.

 

This newsletter was written and edited by Mark Samuels Lasner with the assistance of Jennifer Pack. Items for inclusion, books for review, news, comments, go to: William Morris Society, P.O. Box 53263, Washington, DC 20009, Biblio@aol.com.

 

LAST UPDATE 4 JAN 2001 · PLEASE REPORT BROKEN LINKS TO WEBMASTER@MORRISSOCIETY.ORG

<<Newsletter Home