William Morris and John Ruskin
A New Road on Which the World Should Travel
Edited by John Blewitt
Publication date:30 June 2019
PublisherUniversity of Exeter Press
A wide-ranging collection of essays written for the William Morris Society exploring the various intersections between the life, work and achievements of William Morris (1834-1896) and that of John Ruskin (1819-1900).
Subjects covered include Ruskin’s connection with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, the promotion of craft skills and meaningful work, Morris and the division of labour, Ruskin’s engagement with education and the environment, Ruskin and the art and architecture of Red House, the parallels between Ruskin’s support for Laxey Mill and Morris’s Merton Abbey Works, the illustrated manuscript and the contrasts between Ruskin’s Tory paternalism and Morris’s revolutionary socialism. The book includes articles first published in The Journal of William Morris Studies between 1977 and 2012 and new pieces written especially for this volume.
Ruskin's beliefs had a profound and lasting impact on Morris who wrote, upon first reading Ruskin whilst at Oxford University, that his views offered a "new road on which the world should travel" - a road that led Morris to social and political change.
The work of William Morris – as artist, conservationist, radical thinker and political activist – was inspired, and often directly provoked, by the writings of John Ruskin. Between them the two men changed the world they lived in, revolutionising taste and assaulting the political truisms of their day. In the present era of climate change and vast economic inequality, they continue to challenge us, as if with prophetic voice. The contributors to this book explore the connections between them, the comparisons and contrasts that can be made, and the lines of influence that spread across the Victorian cultural map and sometimes penetrate ours.