Mainly funded by Morris, who briefly served as editor and heavily contributed to it with his own stories, poems, reviews and articles, the magazine lasted for twelve issues, and garnered praise from Tennyson and Ruskin. His apprenticeship focused on architectural drawing, and there he was placed under the supervision of the young architect Philip Webb , who became a close friend. Morris became increasingly fascinated with the idyllic Medievalist depictions of rural life which appeared in the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites, and spent large sums of money purchasing such artworks.
Burne-Jones shared this interest, but took it further by becoming an apprentice to one of the foremost Pre-Raphaelite painters, Dante Gabriel Rossetti ; the three soon became close friends. Morris designed and commissioned furniture for the flat in a Medieval style, much of which he painted with Arthurian scenes in a direct rejection of mainstream artistic tastes.
Morris also continued writing poetry and began designing illuminated manuscripts and embroidered hangings. It did not sell well and garnered few reviews, most of which were unsympathetic.
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Disconcerted, Morris would not publish again for a further eight years. Rosetti initially asked her to model for him. Controversially both Rosetti and Morris were smitten with her, however Morris entered into a relationship with her and they were engaged in spring ; Burden would later admit however that she never loved Morris.
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Morris desired a new home for himself and his daughters resulting in the construction of the Red House in the Kentish hamlet of Upton near Bexleyheath , ten miles from central London. The building's design was a co-operative effort, with Morris focusing on the interiors and the exterior being designed by Webb, for whom the House represented his first commission as an independent architect.
After construction, Morris invited friends to visit, most notably Burne-Jones and his wife Georgiana , as well as Rossetti and his wife Lizzie Siddal. Operating from premises at No. They hoped to reinstate decoration as one of the fine arts and adopted an ethos of affordability and anti-elitism.
Although working within the Neo-Gothic school of design, they differed from Neo-Gothic architects like George Gilbert Scott who simply included certain Gothic features on modern styles of building; instead they sought to return completely to Medieval Gothic methods of craftmanship.
Morris was slowly abandoning painting, recognising that his work lacked a sense of movement; none of his paintings are dated later than His designs would be produced from by Jeffrey and Co. Meanwhile, Morris's family continued to grow.
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It is unknown if their affair was ever sexual, although by this point other members of the group were noticing Rossetti and Janey's closeness. Imagining the creation of an artistic community at Upton, Morris helped develop plans for a second house to be constructed adjacent to Red House in which Burne-Jones could live with his family; the plans were abandoned when Burne-Jones' son Christopher died from scarlet fever. At Queen Square, the Morris family lived in a flat directly above the Firm's shop.
Taylor pulled the Firm's finances into order and spent much time controlling Morris and ensuring that he worked to schedule. Janey's relationship with Rossetti had continued, and by the late s gossip regarding their affair had spread about London, where they were regularly seen spending time together. In August Morris joined the Burne-Jones family on their holiday in Lymington , while in August both families holidayed together in Oxford. While there, he enjoyed walks in the countryside and focused on writing poetry.
Morris had continued to devote much time to writing poetry. The book was a retelling of the ancient Greek myth of the hero Jason and his quest to find the Golden Fleece. In contrast to Morris's former publication, The Life and Death of Jason was well received, resulting in the publishers paying Morris a fee for the second edition. Designed as a homage to Chaucer, it consisted of 24 stories, adopted from an array of different cultures, and each by a different narrator; set in the late 14th century, the synopsis revolved around a group of Norsemen who flee the Black Death by sailing away from Europe, on the way discovering an island where the inhabitants continue to venerate the ancient Greek gods.
Published in four parts by F. Ellis , it soon gained a cult following and established Morris' reputation as a major poet.
By , Morris had become a public figure in Britain, resulting in repeated press requests for photographs, which he despised. Together they produced prose translations of the Eddas and Sagas for publication in English.
Morris deemed calligraphy to be an art form, and taught himself both Roman and italic script, as well as learning how to produce gilded letters. Illustrated with Burne-Jones woodcuts, it was not a popular success. By early summer , Morris began to search for a house outside London where his children could spend time away from the city's pollution.
He settled on Kelmscott Manor in the village of Kelmscott , Oxfordshire , obtaining a joint tenancy on the building with Rossetti in June. Although generally disliking the country, Morris was interested in the Florentine Gothic architecture. Ellis taking his place. Now in complete control of the Firm, Morris took an increased interest in the process of textile dyeing and entered into a co-operative agreement with Thomas Wardle , a silk dyer who operated the Hencroft Works in Leek, Staffordshire. As a result, Morris would spend time with Wardle at his home on various occasions between summer and spring In the Spring of , the Firm opened a store at No.
Continuing with his literary output, Morris translated his own version of Virgil 's Aeneid , titling it The Aeneids of Vergil Although many translations were already available, often produced by trained Classicists, Morris claimed that his unique perspective was as "a poet not a pedant".
He declined, asserting that he felt unqualified, knowing little about scholarship on the theory of poetry. In summer Jenny Morris was diagnosed with epilepsy. Refusing to allow her to be societally marginalised or institutionalised, as was common in the period, Morris insisted that she be cared for by the family. They then proceeded to visit a number of other cities, including Venice , Padua , and Verona , with Morris attaining a greater appreciation of the country than he had on his previous trip.
Owned by the novelist George MacDonald , Morris would name it Kelmscott House and re-decorate it according to his own taste. Morris became politically active in this period, coming to be associated with the radicalist current within British liberalism. EQA had been founded by campaigners associated with the centre-left Liberal Party who opposed Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli 's alliance with the Ottoman Empire ; the Association highlighted the Ottoman massacre of Bulgarians and feared that the alliance would lead Disraeli to join the Ottomans in going to war with the Russian Empire.
However, his discontent with the British liberal movement grew following the election of the Liberal Party's William Ewart Gladstone to the Premiership in Morris was particularly angered that Gladstone's government did not reverse the Disraeli regime's occupation of the Transvaal , introduced the Coercion Bill , and oversaw the Bombardment of Alexandria.
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In , Morris visited Burford Church in Oxfordshire , where he was appalled at the restoration conducted by his old mentor, G. He recognised that these programs of architectural restoration led to the destruction or major alteration of genuinely old features in order to replace them with "sham old" features, something which appalled him. Adopting the role of honorary secretary and treasurer, most of the other early members of SPAB were his friends, while the group's program was rooted in Ruskin's The Seven Lamps of Architecture He was particularly strong in denouncing the ongoing restoration of Tewkesbury Abbey and was vociferous in denouncing the architects responsible, something that deeply upset Street.
Moving his workshops to the site, the premises were used for weaving, dyeing, and creating stained glass; within three years, craftsmen would be employed there. However, despite Morris's ideals, there was little opportunity for the workers to display their own individual creativity. Morris was aware that, in retaining the division between employer and employed, the company failed to live up to his own egalitarian ideals, but defended this, asserting that it was impossible to run a socialist company within a competitive capitalist economy. Janey's relationship with Rossetti had continued through a correspondence and occasional visits, although she found him extremely paranoid and was upset by his addiction to chloral.
She last saw him in , and he died in April the following year. In January Morris was involved in the establishment of the Radical Union , an amalgam of radical working-class groups which hoped to rival the Liberals, and became a member of its executive committee. Britain's first socialist party, the Democratic Federation DF , had been founded in by Henry Hyndman , an adherent of the socio-political ideology of Marxism , with Morris joining the DF in January Instead he preferred the writings of William Cobbett and Sergius Stepniak , although he also read the critique of socialism produced by John Stuart Mill.
In May , Morris was appointed to the DF's executive, and was soon elected to the position of treasurer. Morris aided the DF using his artistic and literary talents; he designed the group's membership card,  and helped author their manifesto, Socialism Made Plain , in which they demanded improved housing for workers, free compulsory education for all children, free school meals, an eight-hour working day , the abolition of national debt, nationalisation of land, banks, and railways, and the organisation of agriculture and industry under state control and co-operative principles.
Morris also regularly contributed articles to the newspaper, in doing so befriending another contributor, George Bernard Shaw. His socialist activism monopolised his time, forcing him to abandon a translation of the Persian Shahnameh. However, the group was facing an internal schism between those such as Hyndman , who argued for a parliamentary path toward socialism, and those like Morris who deemed the Houses of Parliament intrinsically corrupt and capitalist. Personal issues between Morris and Hyndman were exacerbated by their attitude to British foreign policy; Morris was staunchly anti-imperialist while Hyndman expressed patriotic sentiment encouraging some foreign intervention.
As the leading figure in the League Morris embarked on a series of speeches and talks on street corners, in working men's clubs, and in lecture theatres across England and Scotland. To combat this, the League joined a Defence Club with other socialist groups, including the SDF, for which Morris was appointed treasurer. Morris oversaw production of the League's monthly—soon to become weekly—newspaper, Commonweal , serving as its editor for six years, during which time he kept it financially afloat.
First published in February , it would contain contributions from such prominent socialists as Engels, Shaw, Paul Lafargue , Wilhelm Liebknecht , and Karl Kautsky , with Morris also regularly writing articles and poems for it. Set in Kent during the Peasants' Revolt of , it contained strong socialist themes although proved popular among those of different ideological viewpoints, resulting in its publication in book form by Reeves and Turner in From January to October , Morris serialised his novel, News from Nowhere , in Commonweal , resulting in improved circulation for the paper.
In March it was published in book form, before being translated into Dutch, French, Swedish, German and Italian by and becoming a classic among Europe's socialist community.