William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary
William Morris--the great 19th-century craftsman, designer, poet and writer--remains a monumental figure whose influence resonates powerfully today. As an intellectual (and author of the seminal utopian News from Nowhere), his concern with artistic and human values led him to cross what he called the "river of fire" and become a committed socialist--committed not to some theoretical formula but to the day by day struggle of working women and men in Britain and to the evolution of his ideas about art, about work and about how life should be lived.
Many of his ideas accorded none too well with the reforming tendencies dominant in the labour movement, nor with those of "orthodox" Marxism, which has looked elsewhere for inspiration. Both sides have been inclined to venerate Morris rather than to pay attention to what he said.
In this biography, written less than a decade before his groundbreaking The Making of the English Working Class, E.P. Thompson brought his now trademark historical mastery, passion, wit, and essential sympathy. It remains unsurpassed as the definitive work on this remarkable figure, by the major British historian of the 20th century.
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"An absorbing biographical study. . . . A glittering quarry of marvelous quotes from Morris and others, many taken from heretofore inaccessible or unpublished sources." --Walter Arnold, Saturday Review
"Thompson's is the first biography to do justice to Morris's political thought and so assemble the man whole. . . . It is not only the standard biography of Morris; it makes us realize, as no other writer has done, how completely admirable a man this Victorian was--how consistent and honest to himself and others, how incapable of cruelty or jargon and, above all, how free." --Robert Hughes, Time magazine
"The massive text of this volume, which revolutionized Morris studies and outraged conservative (and purely literary) specialists, compels the reader to take on complicated matters bit by bit, almost day to day, sinking into Morris' life, letters, and milieu. Reading the book can be overwhelming but will be rewarding, not only for the subject but also for the author himself, as we read him through the study of his favorite romantic." --www.RainTaxi.com