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William Morris: A Life for Our Time
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William Morris was an extraordinary figure, so manifold in his ambitions and talents, so outsize in his personality, that no single biographer has yet come to grips with his entire life, works, and character. As a wonderfully talented designer and artistic entrepreneur, Morris created a style that still lives; as a contradictory political figure - at once a radical and a traditionalist - he was a founding father of British Socialism in the era of Marx and Engels; as a poet and storyteller, he attained a huge contemporary reputation, producing several best-sellers; and as the husband of the Pre-Raphaelite icon Jane Morris (whose love affair with Dante Gabriel Rossetti caused a stir and led to many famous paintings), he was the subject of personal torments as profound as his creative ones. In this biography, Fiona MacCarthy brings all the strands together, from the dreamy boy in a London suburb spinning medieval fantasies to the great bearded patriarch dividing his time between the design and production of beautiful fabrics, the translation of Icelandic epics, and the promotion of Socialism on street corners. Her understanding of his work as an artist-craftsman is profound, yet she is equally illuminating about the strange mixture of nostalgia and yearning for change that shaped his politics. At the same time, she is prepared to deal frankly and in detail with his often painful personal life.
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