Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and utopian socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. He founded a design firm in partnership with the artist Edward Burne-Jones, and the poet and artistDante Gabriel Rossetti which profoundly influenced the decoration of churches and houses into the early 20th century. As an author, illustrator andmedievalist, he helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, and was a direct influence on postwar authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien. He was also a major contributor to reviving traditional textile arts and methods of production, and one of the founders of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, now a statutory element in the preservation of historic buildings in the UK.
Morris wrote and published poetry, fiction, and translations of ancient and medieval texts throughout his life. His best-known works include The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), The Earthly Paradise (1868–1870), A Dream of John Ball (1888), the utopian News from Nowhere (1890), and the fantasy romance The Well at the World’s End (1896). He was an important figure in the emergence of socialism in Britain, founding the Socialist League in 1884, but breaking with that organization over goals and methods by the end of the decade. He devoted much of the rest of his life to the Kelmscott Press, which he founded in 1891. Kelmscott was devoted to the publishing of limited-edition, illuminated-style print books. The 1896 Kelmscott edition of the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer is considered a masterpiece of book design.
In his later years, Morris returned to the paramount interests of his life, art and literature. When his business was enlarged in 1881 by the establishment of a tapestry industry at Merton Abbey Mills, in South West London, Morris found yet another means for expressing the medievalism that inspired all his work, whether on paper or at the loom. He then added another to his many activities; he assumed a direct interest in typography. In the early seventies he had devoted much attention to the arts of manuscript illumination and calligraphy. He himself wrote several manuscripts, with illuminations of his own devising. From this to attempts to beautify the art of modern printing was but a short step. The House of the Wolfings, printed in 1889 at the Chiswick Press, was the first essay in this direction; and in the same year, in The Roots of the Mountains, he carried his theory a step further. Some fifteen months later he added a private printing-press to his multifarious occupations and started upon the first volume issued from the Kelmscott Press. For the last few years of his life this new interest remained the absorbing one.
After his departure from the Socialist League, Morris divided his time between the Firm, then relocated to Merton Abbey, Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, the Kelmscott Press, and Kelmscott Manor. At his death at Kelmscott House in 1896 he was interred in the Kelmscott village churchyard.
“A brief sketch of the Morris movement” was a 1911 pamphlet at the 50th anniversary of the Morris & Co. (http://www.kelmscottbookshop.com/store/21556.htm)