Monday, 13 April 2015

Getting to know William Morris

I've been reading about the genius of William Morris for nearly 20 years now and how I wish I could just sit down and have a chat to him about it all. I have started reading intently the 'Collected Letters of William Morris' series. 
I have three of the four volumes but still need Volume 3 to complete the set. I suspect it will be a while before I get to that volume anyway as Volume 1 is over 600 pages and very heavy propped up in bed at night! What I am learning is that he was a devoted father and husband who always tried to please his wife even allowing her a live in lover. Jane never loved William which I find so sad. One wonders if he threw himself into his work to escape from the sadness or whether it was his work that contributed to Jane finding love elsewhere. William addresses letters to his friends by "My dearest friend" and to Jenny and May……"Dear little daughters" and finally to Jane….."Dearest Janey". There are over 2,400 letters that have been found in over 140 libraries and private collections around the world so I have much to get through. So tonight a small snippet from the very beginning to his mother from Rouen, Hotel de France (Morris is 21 and has started his clergy studies at Oxford and is on a break with fellow students Burne-Jones and Fulford in France)…….
"My dear Mother,
I suppose you will be expecting to hear of me by this time, so here is a dull account of what we have been doing since we landed; Abbeville has a very fine church, though very unfinished, and the town itself is very old and full of exceedingly good houses……..Morris goes on to describe more of the architecture and "gorgeous churches"……..Well we have had a glorious time of it, working desperately hard; my two friends have been in a state of ecstasy since we landed, and for the matter of that so have I. The weather has been just what we could have wished: we hope to be able to stay out another fortnight. I mustn't write any more or it will be over weight - Best love to all - Your affectionate Son William" (I might add his letter is far from dull!)
It is so incredible that so many of his letters were kept but I do feel at times like I am intruding. With moving house twice in the last few years I found it very hard to throw out correspondence - especially cards. But the blog doesn't take up any room ….but where on earth is it all stored and when will it all go 'puff' and be gone??! Oh well the weekly Hill report continues……we had Larry's Aunt Joan celebrate an 80th birthday so I made a cushion that could be signed by all of us on the back as a memento……..

 We also spent Easter Monday escorting a delightful couple from New South Wales about town to see a little bit of Morris and some of where we live. It was a warm day to start with but then a storm came in which was quite spectacular for photos……….

 A few days ago we drove to Thorngrove Manor to pick up "the" quilt……….. 
Nydia and Ken have kindly loaned it for the quilt convention in Melbourne next week where it will be hanging with nine other quilts of mine. A visit with this delightful couple is always special and the afternoon tea is to die for! Vodka and beetroot soaked salmon and avocado followed by the best scones on earth and all served on Portmeirion of course! Thanks Nydia and Ken - you are the best!

 Somewhere in the midst of this I enjoyed a day on my own with this little girl who is growing up way too fast! Miss Maisie has an enormous personality and her hearing deficit is not stopping her……she adores music especially the maracas! Today she had another hearing test and exceeded all expectations hearing extremely well out of just the one ear………..
 We had a quick visit to the Museum afterwards but initially Beau clung to me in trepidation of seeing real dinosaur bones and stuffed dead animals! This was Emily's collage of the day……..
And we also had an evening watching our other talented daughter perform another amazing hip hop routine (And I won't embarrass her by putting the entire video on here - just a screen shot of her on the left instead!)
 So we are never idle - just like Morris! I've been preparing for four days of teaching and a lecture and of course answering wonderful emails. One of them was from Sherryn sharing her stunning version of my "Friends" quilt combined with blocks from "Renaissance" as well. It is gorgeous Sherryn and thanks for sharing it with us all…….

Some time back I also received these wonderful photos from Yvette in the US. She has been painstakingly renovating her home in the Arts and Crafts style complete with her very own William Morris bedroom. The bed is similar to the one Morris had, the walls are wood panelled with Morris wallpaper and the bed cover and pelmet will be stitched by Yvette. But hanging on the wall is the quilt I donated to the Society of Antiquaries when they were raising funds for Kelmscott Manor. Yvette was the winning bid at auction and I am so glad my quilt is now hanging in this amazing room where it will be treasured. Thanks Yvette for allowing me to share part of your journey…….

So on a final note back home I can report that the weather is changing with the nights becoming cooler. The birds are preparing for whatever they do pre-Winter and boy are they noisy! These are galahs that looks like confetti in the trees. This is some distance from our back fence but the camera could zoom in a little as they all left the trees at once…….

And yes the garden is still blooming but not for long now! If time permits I will try to blog during the Australasian Quilt Convention so you can see what it is all about………so till then take care x


  1. wonderful post as always. Love seeing the quilt from the manor again and it is nice that you can borrow it to display -- love the bedroom that you

  2. I love your posts, every one of them is a treasure to look at again and again. Thank you,

  3. I so wish I was going to AQC this year to see that lovely quilt and will look forward to reading your next blog about it.. The William Morris bedroom is beautiful.


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