One of the 19th century's most famous names, William Morris is still revered today for his work in art and design. Here’s how William Morris became so vastly influential and why his work can still be found across the world today.

William Morris was an incredibly influential man. He was a celebrated British artist and designer producing iconic prints bursting with personality. Born in 1834, William Morris is best known as the 19th century's most celebrated designer, he was a key figure in the Arts & Crafts Movement, and he created the famous interiors firm known as Morris & Co. Here’s how William Morris became so vastly influential and why his work can still be found across the world today.

Who Was William Morris?

William Morris was born in 1834. Early on in life, he became ingrained in the art scene and began an art career in his early twenties. After he married Jane Burden, a beautiful Pre-Raphaelite muse and talented Arts and Crafts embroiderer, they furnished and decorated their house with their artistic circle's help. It is said that ‘Huge murals and hand-embroidered fabrics decorated the walls, creating the feel of a historical manor house.’ Following this success, he set up an interior company with his friends called, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.

Everything was to be created by hand, a principle that set the company firmly against the mainstream focus on industrialised 'progress'. This insistence on establishing a 'from scratch' understanding of the process was to become a hallmark of Morris's career.

In the late 1860s, two decorating commissions helped establish Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.'s company. One was for a new dining room at the South Kensington Museum (later the V&A), and another at St James's Palace. The dining room at the V&A is now famously known as ‘The Green Dining Room’, and ‘The Morris Room.’

In 1875 William Morris became the sole director of the renamed and restructured Morris & Company. Over the next ten years, the company grew in popularity and size, opening shops in London and completing commissioned work. William continued to design by creating printed and woven fabrics, wallpapers, carpets, rugs, embroidery, and tapestry. Towards the end of his career and life, he was still involved in the design, however, he also wrote prose narratives, and set up a publishing agency called Kelmscott Press.

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" - William Morris

William Morris wall art above sofa

William Morris & The Victoria and Albert Museum

William Morris was closely involved with the Victoria and Albert Museum and is still a celebrated designer at the museum. He famously designed ‘The Green Dining Room’ at the V&A. This was one of his first commissions, but his relationship with the museum was lifelong. In 1876 he became an examiner at the South Kensington Museum's art school. In 1884 he was invited to join the Museum's Committee of Art Referees and helped the institution make decisions on the purchase of new holdings.

Morris advised on many acquisitions as well as contributing personally to the Museum's collections. He visitedregularly visited the museum and its collections, borrowing design ideas or making notes on and recreating methods of textile construction.

Following his death, his daughter Mary Morris carefully managed his legacy and maintained a long relationship with the V&A, even bequeathing a sizable collection of her father’s work to the museum in her will.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all details of daily life.”- William Morris

William Morris wall art above dining room table

William Morris Today

William Morris’s legacy lives on today in many ways. His designs have been immortalised through his work with the V&A, and Morris and Co is a renowned design company with patterns that can be found across the world in fabric, wallpaper, textiles and more.

Our William Morris collection inspired by the V&A contains an exclusive set of prints that celebrate William Morris's work. From impeccable floral prints combined with elegant initials, to lovely animal silhouettes decorated with instantly recognisable Arts and Crafts motifs, browse our completely unique William Morris prints.

Each piece is printed on luxury Etching Cotton Rag 315 GSM fine art paper, using a 12-colour printer. We use light-fast ink on our prints, which creates art that is more striking and dramatic than ever before.

Browse William Morris Art Inspired By The V&A


March 24, 2023 — James Mace
Tags: Art History