William Morris, Art and Idealism

Charles Harvey and Jon Press examine the aesthetic achievements of the multi-talented and pioneering early Socialist.

William Morris was a man of extraordinary creative energy who dedicated his life to the cause of art. Personal experience convinced him that art should not be the preserve of a small minority of professionals of refined taste and sensibilities, but should be a universal activity, natural to life, work and leisure. He wished to live in a society which eschewed the production of inferior, ugly wares, made without pleasure by tormented workers. In a decent society, which strove for beauty and relaxation instead of profit and personal advantage, the only goods worth making would he the necessities of life, and objects which were a source of pleasure to maker and user alike. Hence his famous dictum: 'art which is made by the people and for the people, as a happiness to the maker and the user'.

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