May Morris, youngest daughter of influential designer William Morris, was one of the leading female contributors to the Arts and Crafts Movement. She ran the embroidery department of her father’s famous firm Morris & Co., and had a successful freelance career as a designer, maker, and exhibitor, founding the Women’s Guild of Arts in 1907 and undertaking a lecture tour in the United States between 1909 and 1910. May’s approach to embroidery was innovative and widely influential in the UK and abroad, yet her important contribution to embroidery is often overshadowed by the accomplishments of her more famous father.
May Morris: Arts & Crafts Designer is an attractive introduction to May’s work, with exquisite images including close-up photographs of her embroideries. The book is divided into five chapters—Sketches and Watercolors, Wallpapers and Embroidery, Book Covers and Designs, May Morris and the Art of Dress, and Jewelry and Metalwork—each of which opens with an introductory text, followed by catalog entries with extended captions. Interspersed within the chronological arrangement of objects are feature spreads highlighting particular aspects of May Morris’s work.
Destined to find an audience that will delight in its well-rounded examination of this talented woman whose work – which comes vividly to life in these pages – may very well provide new inspiration for design lovers everywhere.
Jenny Lister is a curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Jan Marsh is a biographer and curator. She is president of the William Morris Society and Brangwyn Trustee of the William Morris Gallery, London.
Anna Mason is a curator and manager at the William Morris Gallery, London.