William Morris: Visions of an Ideal World

How many people do you know who write books; print books by hand, including designing type fonts; design fabrics, wallpaper, and carpets in lush, elegant florals; embroider; weave; promote a socialist approach to work; AND garden? Not many? If you would like to meet one, visit the library’s new display “William Morris: Visions on an Ideal World” to begin your acquaintance with one of the most interesting people to have walked the earth. That small beige book standing on its bottom in the large case was produced by the Kelmscott Press (Morris’s printing house) in 1895 and was most assuredly touched by Morris himself. If you want to look at it closely, touch it yourself, let me know. The book usually resides in our own Special Collections, so you can see it anytime you want (after the spring display) by visiting Special on weekdays between 1 and 5 (watch for closings, however, as Special prepares for major renovation). The book, by the way, is Hand & Soul by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, another eminent Victorian. Nearby is a Kelmscott book produced in 1897, after Morris’s death,  open to a frontispiece designed by Edward Burne-Jones, a famous friend and collaborator of Morris’s who painted and designed stain glass (found in churches all over England), and illustrated Kelmscott’s most famous book, the Kelmscott Chaucer (which we do not have, alas).

To learn more about Morris from a passionate devotee, attend a talk by St. Ambrose University professor of English Owen S. Rogal, “Aesthetics for the 99% by Ruskin & Morris: Why You Should Read the Victorians,” on Thursday, March 15, at 4:30 p.m. in the library.

AND celebrate National Poetry Month with faculty and students reading Victorian poets on Wednesday, April 11, at 4:00 in the library. You might be surprised–goblins, knights, queens, fantasy, and humor–the Victorians were not as stuffy as legend suggests. There will be food, of course–tea and other delights.

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