New Blog - Morris Pure
With a pared back, minimal aesthetic we have stripped away colour to accentuate Morris’ superlative artistry and core values of craftsmanship.Read More
William Morris is born in Walthamstow to wealthy parents, the eldest son of nine children.
The family move to Water House (now the William Morris Gallery) when William is 14, following the death of his father. Morris is away at boarding school but returns home for idyllic holidays exploring the countryside.
Morris attends Oxford University to study theology where he meets Edward Burne-Jones.
Discovering a shared fascination in mediaeval architecture, art and monastic living the two men are to become life-long friends and colleagues.
Burne-Jones drops out of university and moves into rooms and a studio in Red Lion Square in London.
Morris graduates but agonises about his chosen vocation being drawn to a career in architecture instead.
Morris finds an apprenticeship with the architect G.E. Street in Oxfordshire where he meets Philip Webb.
The firm relocate to London and Morris shares lodgings with Burne-Jones in Red Lion Square.
Morris is introduced to Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Burne-Jones's mentor, fellow artist and founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB), and whom he greatly admires.
Whilst still an architecture student Morris makes furniture inspired by medieval designs and construction.
Morris, Burne-Jones and Rossetti decorate the ceiling of the Oxford Union with Arthurian inspired painted murals.
Morris marries Jane Burden, daughter of an Oxfordshire stable-hand, who had become a model for the PRB.
Morris and Philip Webb embark on a project - to build Morris a home in the medieval style where he and Burne-Jones can live in an artistic community.
Morris and Jane move into Red House, designed by Philip Webb. They start to decorate and furnish the house with friends.
Morris founds Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company, with Burne-Jones, Rossetti and Webb. The other partners are the painter Ford Madox Brown and Charles Faulkner as book-keeper.
"The Firm" as they become known, opens a showroom at 8 Red Lion Square, London and concentrate on church decoration and ecclesiastical arts such as stained glass, metalwork, embroidery and murals.
Morris and Jane's first daughter 'Jenny' is born.
Furniture is developed and the refined and elegant rush-seated 'Sussex' chair is launched.
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. receive awards for stained glass, decorated furniture, and embroideries at the International Exhibition.
Morris begins to design wallpaper.
Morris' second daughter 'May' is born.
'The Firm' produce hand painted tiles featuring popular motifs such as daisies, artichokes and sunflowers, or scenes from mediaeval literature.
Morris launches three wallpaper designs 'Daisy', 'Trellis' & 'Fruit', hand-printed by Jeffrey & Co. who block print all the Morris papers by hand, up to 1926.
A sample of each design and colourway is recorded in Jeffrey & Co. log-books with annotations by the printer for future reference, as shown here with the design 'Trellis'.
The wood blocks are made by Barretts of East London.
Morris and family move to 26 Queen Square, Bloomsbury. The Firm's studio and showroom also relocate to the same address.
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. commissioned to decorate the Green Dining Room at the South Kensington Museum (now known as the Victoria and Albert Museum) and the Armoury and Tapestry Rooms at St James'.
Morris & Co. declares it's wallpapers 'Free from Arsenic' in an attempt to reassure the public about safety. Choosing natural pigments over synthetic dyes sometimes meant there were hidden dangers in the early wallpapers.
The Firm release their first hand block-printed fabrics which are three adaptations of 1830s chintzes.
Printed by Thomas Clarkson at the Bannister Hall Print Works, one of these fabrics, 'Large Stem', appears here.
Morris takes out a joint lease on Kelmscott Manor, Oxfordshire, with Rossetti.
Morris begins designing his own fabrics starting with 'Jasmine', but he preferred his second design 'Tulip & Willow'.
Still printed by Bannister Hall however Morris is dissatisfied by the results.
Morris designs 'Lily' wallpaper which is trialled by Jeffrey & Co. under the supervision of Managing Director Metford Warner. A sample is sent to Morris for approval which he returned with exact instructions on colour changes and shading to leaves, flowers and seeds in the design. This is typical of the way Warner and Morris worked together on every wallpaper produced.
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. are dissolved and 'Morris & Co.' is established with William Morris as sole proprietor.
Morris designs 'Acanthus', 'Light Larkspur' and 'Marigold' wallpapers marking the beginning of a ten year period when Morris the designer was at his most prolific.
Morris releases 'Vine' wallpaper in a metallic and embossed version.
Morris designs Artichoke Tile panel which is made by William de Morgan who produces all Morris & Co. ceramics.
Morris' eldest daughter Jenny develops epilepsy.
A new showroom and business premises open at 449 Oxford Street, London, bringing together the full range of wallpapers, fabric, ceramics, glassware, metalwork, embroidery and furniture.
A full interior design service and mail order business is offered. Customers can view and select wallpapers from 'standbooks' at the Oxford Street showroom, and after 1917 in the George Street showroom.
John Henry Dearle joins the company as a showroom assistant.
Morris designs 'The Bird' and 'Peacock and Dragon' two of the earliest woven textiles produced from a rented workshop in Great Ormond Square.
William Morris and Philip Webb found the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
Morris & Co. start producing printed velvets.
Morris teaches himself tapestry weaving.
All fabric printing is out-sourced to Thomas Wardle of Staffordshire who works closely with Morris to develop vegetable and mineral dyes.
The Morris family move to Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, now the headquarters of the William Morris Society, and Morris starts teaching himself tapestry weaving.
Morris installs looms in the coach-house and stables of Kelmscott House reviving the craft of hand knotted carpets which he referred to as 'Hammersmith' Rugs.
Morris designs 'The St. James' wallpaper to decorate the entrance and banqueting rooms of St James's Palace.
Requiring two widths of wallpaper for the horizontal pattern repeat of 112cm, and using 68 wood blocks, this was to be the largest of all his wallpaper patterns.
The design is illustrated here on a 'matchpiece' to show the introduction of each colour as it was printed.
Morris & Co. acquires Merton Abbey Mills in South London for the production of vat dyeing and block printing fabrics, hand knotting and weaving carpets and tapestries, embroidery, weaving damasks, and all production of stained glass.
Morris joins the Social Democratic Federation.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti dies, aged 54.
Morris designs 'Granada' a woven silk velvet, over-printed and embellished with gilt thread.
Morris & Co. expands into international markets in Europe, the United States and Australia.
William Morris forms The Socialist League aiming to end the class divide and bring equality through a fairer distribution of wealth.
Jeffrey & Co. perfects a way of imitating the expensive 'leather' papers being imported from Japan.
'Chrysanthemum' designed by Morris in 1877 was reproduced in 1885 in a new 'leather' look paper.
May Morris takes over the Embroidery production at Merton Abbey aged 23.
Queen Victoria commissions Morris to design a wallpaper for Balmoral Castle, incorporating the VRI cipher.
Morris also designs 'Willow Boughs'.
Morris & Co. exhibit the 'The Forest' tapestry at the Arts and Crafts Exhibition which is later bought by Alexander Ionides.
All Morris furniture production moves to Pimlico.
Frank & Robert Smith become business partners and responsible for retail.
Dearle becomes Head Designer at Morris & Co. and takes over management of Merton Abbey Mills.
Morris establishes The Kelmscott Press, producing hand-printed and bound books, with illustrations by Burne-Jones.
Morris first published his utopian novel 'News From Nowhere' in 1890 in a series printed in the Socialist magazine 'Commonweal'. Here it is seen in a beautiful volume published by the Kelmscott Press.
William Morris dies at the age of 62 and is buried in a churchyard near Kelmscott Manor.
Dearle continues to manage Merton Abbey and becomes art director of Morris & Co. Overall control of the company goes to W.A.S. Benson with Frank and Robert Smith in deputy roles.
Edward Burne-Jones dies, aged 65.
John Henry Dearle designs 'Golden Lily' and 'Artichoke'.
The company is sold to Henry Currie Marillier who changes the name to Morris & Co. Decorators Ltd.
The board launches 5 wallpaper designs, including 'Oaktree' printed by surface roller machines - it is a huge departure from the Morris vision.
The business is commissioned to provide furnishings and Coronation thrones for King George V and Queen Mary. The Royal Warrant is granted to Morris & Co. Decorators Ltd.
Jane Morris dies, aged 75. Having purchased Kelmscott Manor before her death, Jane leaves the house to her daughter May.
The Oxford Street showroom moves to 17 George Street near Hanover Square.
During the First World War Merton Abbey is partially shut down (the fabric printing is later outsourced to Stead McAlpin in Carlisle).
Morris & Co. Decorators Ltd release a few 19th century fabric designs during the First World War at Merton Abbey, including 'Tangley' and 'Holkham'.
The first book of Plain Wallpapers is released but were too expensive to be commercially viable.
The company changes its name to Morris & Co. Art-workers Ltd. In the post-war years the business struggles, but offers a complete interior decorating service including carpet cleaning and tapestry repair.
Jeffrey and Co., who printed all Morris & Co. wallpapers, is acquired by the monopoly Wallpaper Manufacturers Ltd (WPM) to which Arthur Sanderson and Sons belong.
Production of all Jeffrey and Co. papers moves to Sanderson's own factory in Chiswick, including block prints. After a fire the following year all stock was moved to a new factory in Perivale. These were still distributed by Morris & Co.
John Henry Dearle dies - the last remaining member of Morris' original team, Dearle had worked for the company for 54 years.
May Morris dies, aged 76, and leaves Kelmscott Manor to Oxford University in her will.
Morris & Co. Art-workers Ltd. enters voluntary liquidation. Arthur Sanderson and Sons Ltd. buys the entire company for £400 including the George Street showroom and contents, all the wallpaper printing blocks, records, logbooks, stock and original samples.
The Sanderson Perivale factory is given over to the war effort and all capital expenditure ceased.
The wallpaper industry instigates an exhibition with over 200 contributors, including Sanderson, to boost UK production and stimulate growth.
At the Festival of Britain Sanderson exhibit their first post-war pattern book, a huge range of machine-printed fabric and wallpapers along with Morris' five surface printed papers, which appeared unfashionable amid the graphic, modern styles of the 1950s.
Sanderson launches hand-block printed Morris wallpapers re-coloured in psychedelic hues and a new range of screen printed fabrics which includes five designs previously only available as wallpaper, instigated by new Fabric Design Manager George Lowe, incluing 'Chrysanthemum' and 'Golden Lily'.
The front cover of the Sanderson house magazine 'Vista' features one of the new colourways of 'Bachelor's Button'.
Furnishing fabric outsells wallpaper for the first time.
Sanderson launches the revolutionary 'Triad' co-ordinated range, now called 'Options'.
Sanderson re-launches the successful 'Our Man' advertising campaign to boost wallpaper sales. Different advertisements are run in The William Morris Society Journal.
To offset high costs in hand block printing Morris wallpapers the Sanderson Perivale factory undertake profitable commissions and transfer some designs onto screen prints.
A new trend in Victoriana inspires a second fabric collection which included hugely popular 'Golden Lily' in a brown colourway, which at its peak sold 5,000 metres per month.
Sanderson's own successful 'Triad' range of co-ordinated fabrics and wallpaper started to included Morris designs, such as 'Blackthorn', 'Rose' and 'Myrtle'.
Sanderson launch the Heritage Collection wallpaper book, including designs by Morris, C.F.A. Voysey and Owen Jones, but it didn't rejuvenate sales of wallpaper.
The Perivale factory shuts, although keeps a small unit for block printing Morris papers.
A new Chief Executive A.L. Taylor is appointed and Design Manager Michael Parry replaces George Lowe.
Parry extricates Morris & Co. from under the Sanderson name, re-instating its own brand identity after 45 years. Parry releases a new collection of authentic Morris & Co. block printed wallpapers and arranges to have some long-established block-print designs are transferred onto surface rollers.
Printed in Denmark the machines are slowed down to give the appearance of a block printed paper but at a more affordable price.
Sanderson launches the first Coordinated Morris & Co. fabric and wallpaper book, quickly followed by subsequent volumes.
A new collection of hand block printed wallpapers were launched, produced in the new Lancashire wallpaper factory.
The Sanderson name is removed from all Morris & Co. merchandise and advertising.
Lucrative international licensing opportunities become a major part of the business with 'Willow Boughs' now available as bedlinen, tableware, block printed wallpaper, printed textile, printed sheer, upholstery jacquard, tapestry and as a surface printed wallpaper, and consequently becomes the best selling design in the company.
Within a few years the Sanderson and Morris brands were both strengthened by their independence from each other and ranked high in a public survey of the leading companies in UK furnishings industry, Sanderson coming first.
Sanderson ceases to include any Morris patterns in its own collections.
Sanderson and Morris & Co. are purchased by Walker Greenbank PLC, headed by John Sach.
Production is moved to the Group's own mills in the UK; wallpaper manufacture to Anstey in Loughborough and fabric printing to Standfast in Lancashire.
Morris & Co. release the Morris IV Co-ordinated Collection of Fabrics and Wallpapers.
The Pimpernel and Embroideries Collections are released.
The Morris V Collection of co-ordinatng fabrics and wallpapers is launched.
Morris & Co. celebrate their 150th Anniversary with the launch of the Archive Collections, the release of 'A Revolution in Decoration' book by Michael Parry, and mounting a number of historical exhibitions in National Trust houses including Wightwick Manor, Red House and Standen.
Morris & Co. team up with Barbour to produce a range of handbags and jackets featuring 'Marigold' and 'Strawberry Thief' designs.
Morris & Co. offer a more modern look with an advertising campaign which reflects current trends in the artisanal and craft revival, with the slogan '19th century Modern'.
Morris & Co. release the Archive II Collection which includes designs inspired by Morris' poetry, The Kelmscott Press and his 'Forest' Tapestry from 1888.
Morris & Co. launch a range of tableware and china through licensing partner Pimpernel.