William Morris was born at Walthamstow, near London.
Began attending Exeter College in Oxford, intending to study for a career in the church. At Oxford he met Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), and the pair became firm friends – a friendship and collaborative partnership lasting to the end of their lives. By 1855 both realised that they were more interested in pursuing careers in the arts rather than the church.
Began work with gothic revival architect George Edmund Street (1824–1881) in London, where he met Philip Webb (1831–1915) who also worked for Street. By the year’s end Morris had abandoned architecture for art and poetry.
Morris and Burne-Jones began working with Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882), and became associated with the pre-Raphaelite movement.
Married Jane Burden (1839–1914), and in 1860 the pair moved into the Red House in South London, which had been designed for them by Philip Webb. Morris was involved in the internal design of the house, a project which led him to focus on interiors.
Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was established at Red Lion Square in London, and brought together various skilled people to work in the decorative arts. Early designs were for furniture, stained and table glass, decorated tiles, textiles and wallpapers.
Public recognition for the firm at the London International Exhibition in 1862 brought the first substantial commissions, including stained glass for a church at Selsley in the Cotswolds, with windows designed by Morris, Webb, Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown and Burne-Jones
CeramicsMorris first met William De Morgan, who worked for him painting furniture panels and designing stained glass before establishing his own business as a ceramics designer/manufacturer in 1873, after which he continued to collaborate with Morris.
The firm moved to Queen Square, London. The Morris family lived above the workshop.
The first commissions included the interior for St James Palace, London and the Green Dining Room, now Morris Room, at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Late 1860s to 1870s
Individual contributions by members to Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. were uneven, and the original partnership dissolved in 1875. The business was re-established as Morris & Co., with its Oxford Street showroom opening in London in 1877.
The Morris family moved to Kelmscott Manor in Hammersmith, where Morris began experimenting with tapestries.
Morris employed talented young designer John Henry Dearle (1860–1932). Dearle went on to become the company’s chief designer.
Workshops were established at Merton Abbey near Wimbledon, where the firm’s curtains, carpets and tapestries were produced, giving Morris more control over quality and production. This coincided with the growing popularity of Morris & Co. interior decorating business.
Morris declared himself a socialist and began actively writing and lecturing on socialism.
Morris established the Kelmscott Press which produced sumptuously designed and exquisitely printed books. Fifty-two titles were printed before the press closed in 1898.
Morris died at Kelmscott Manor. John Henry Dearle was promoted to art director.
Morris & Co. was renamed Morris & Co. Decorators Ltd.
The company was renamed Morris & Co. Art Workers Ltd.
The company was in decline, as its designs began to fall out of fashion with the public.
Morris & Co. closes