Eco-socialism in the early poetry & prose of William Morris
William Morris (1834-1896) was one of the great polymaths of the nineteenth century. He was a passionate mediaevalist and his love of the Middle Ages inspired most of his life’s work which is monumental in both range and volume. Morris was a great artist-craftsman and was influential in the rise of the Arts and Crafts Movement in the second half of the nineteenth century, a movement which saw the revival of traditional crafts as a reaction to the utilitarianism of industrial mass production. Already an accomplished writer, poet, translator, journalist, artist, craftsman, bibliophile and political essayist, Morris became, in the 1880s, a significant figure in the development of the Socialist movement, writing and lecturing prolifically. He was also deeply concerned about environmental issues and he viewed the two, that is, social equality and care of the environment, as inextricably linked. Arguably, his credo was what would be described today as eco-socialism.
By examining his poetry and prose from 1856-1876 my aim is to demonstrate that social and environmental concerns were crucial to Morris’s thought long before he declared himself a socialist in 1883.
First Degree: MA (Hons) English (University of Dundee)