Happy Birthday William Morris - Still popular and influential at 180
- by Susan Halas
Another fine Canadian cake decorated in the style of a Morris book.
William Morris perhaps one of the most influential figures in western decorative arts and architecture, not to mention a book designer and typographer of considerable note, celebrated his 180 birthday on March 24, 2014. The venerable native of Walthamstow, East London is perhaps best known among antiquarians for the Kelmscott Press and its edition of Chaucer. Still a notable figure nearly two centuries after his birth he has followers all over the globe.
Perhaps none of them more festive than the William Morris Society of Canada where their home page is titled “William Morris: Designer, Collaborative Artist, Writer, Poet, Printer, Publisher, Ecologist, Visionary Socialist and Preservationist.” Every year the group hosts a birthday celebration and bakes and decorates a cake in the Morris manner. It’s some cake. This year’s confection was a true work of art and other cakes are also on view at the Canadian society’s home page www.wmsc.ca.
According to Richard Bishop, a board member, the society organizes a whole series of events throughout the year. “Each year,” he continued, “close to his birthday we have a birthday party. Two of our longtime members, Laura Bright and Gianna Wichelow, make a special cake. Both women are Toronto residents, professional designers and amateur chefs.”
The Toronto based site also reported that “the William Morris Birthday Symposium has come and gone. On Saturday, March 22, sixty members came out to University College on the University of Toronto campus and enjoyed an excellently programmed event, all in honour of the man himself, William Morris, on his 180th birthday.”
The Canadian group also provides a link to the William Morris Society UK (aka “the mother ship”) at www.williammorrissociety.org.
Here you’ll find detailed information about Kelmscott House - Hammersmith and how to visit it www.williammorrissociety.org/house.shtml as well as an array of interesting links about the collection, the library and other Morris focused links.
Among them is the William Morris Society USA www.morrissociety.org. This organization was founded in New York in 1971 as an affiliate of the UK William Morris Society. The William Morris Society in the United States strives to publicize the life and work of William Morris and his associates. It coordinates with fellow Morris societies in the UK and Canada, and distributes UK and US newsletters and a biannual Journal of William Morris Studies.
For more short illustrated articles see the Victoria & Albert Museum’s on line William Morris content at www.vam.ac.uk/page/w/william-morris.