Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gallery Tour: Jane Morris: Pre-Raphaelite Muse

20 February 2014, 19:30
Meet in the Main Hall
  • Late Shift

Jane Morris (née Burden), by John Robert Parsons, copied by  Emery Walker Ltd, July 1865 - NPG  -
Jane Morris (née Burden)
by John Robert Parsons, copied by Emery Walker Ltd
July 1865
NPG x137525
Artist Grace Adam looks at the life and influence of Jane Morris, whose image became central to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

William and Jane Morris Fund


Monday, October 28, 2013

White Lies

May, who described herself as having 'play-fever
badly' tried her own hand as a dramatist. Her play Lady Griselda's Dream
appeared in Longmans Magazine in June 189811 and a second, White Lies. A Play
in Oue Act, was privately printed by the Chiswick Press in 1903.

William disliked plays as he got older but acted in Socialist entertainments and was said to be a brilliant mimic. Jane loved plays but seldom went with her husband who often made very loud remarks on the play or actors.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Study of Jane Morris as Beatrice for the painting 'Dante's Dream'

  • Study of Jane Morris as Beatrice for the painting 'Dante's Dream' in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; half-length female figure lying to right, with long hair, her hands crossed over her chest and eyes closed. 1870 Red, black and white chalk on light green paper

Friday, October 18, 2013

Celebrating May Morris


Celebrating May Morris:Textile Artist and Editor of William Morris, by Jan Marsh.
Tuesday, October 23 2012, 12:00am - 2:00am

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jane BURDEN (Mrs William Morris) (1839–1914)

The plaque was unveiled on 19 October 2007 by Dr Jan Marsh, President of the William Morris Society. It is erected on the modern wall of the Hertford College building in St Helen’s Passage (off New College Lane) where some of the dwellings had stood.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

La Ghirlandada

La Ghirlandata and the unfinished counterpart. In 1873 D.G Rossetti produced The Drawing, Chalk and Oil Painting La Ghirlandada with Alexa Wilding modelling for the central figure and May Morris for the cherubs. According to Virginia Surtees Rossetti planned another painting that would act as a companion to the oil painting, the pen and brown ink sketch, made two years later, shows his plans for this painting, the model is Jane Morris.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Jenny and William

Morris adored Jenney [sic]. He could not sit in the same
room without his arm around her waist. His voice changed
when he spoke to her as it changed to no one else ... Their
harmony seemed to me to be perfect.

G.B. Shaw
The Observer, 6 November 1949

Rossetti's real love

Caine quotes,, Rossetti's comment on somewhat different circumstances: 'To marry one woman and then find out when it is too late, that you love another is the
deepest tragedy that can enter into a man's life.' Caine's Recollections of
Dante Gamel Rossetti, 1882. published four months after Rossetti's death,
was silent on these matters.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Jane and Dante

For close on thirty years after the death of Gabricl. William Michael
Rossetti conscientiously edited his brother's literary remains. producing over
a dozen volumes, many of them stout, without ever referring to the association. Lady Burne-Jones and ]. W. Mackail, Morris' biographer. were equally
silent. F. G. Stephens, Rossetti's friend and the regular reviewer of his paintings,
was so circumspect that in his Dante Gabriel Rouetti, (p. 74), he
affected to discern a reference to Miss Alexa Wilding in the sonnet, 'The
Portrait', in which Rossetti expressed his exultant infatuation for ]aney.

Nothing was revealed in the posthumously published Recollections of Dante
GabrieJ Ronetti and his Circle, Treffry Dunn, Rossetti's studio
assistant. T. Watts-Dunton never achieved his long contemplated definitive
biography. H. C. Marillier, whose Dante Gabriel Rossetti: An illustrated
memorialof his life and art, 1899, remains the most comprehensive and useful
picture book on the subject, was wholly discreet. May Morris was understandably
reticent in discussing the intimate lives of her parents and said little
about her mother's relations with Rossetti. But she chose as frontispiece for
Vol. V of The Collected Works of William Morris, Rossetti's first painting
of ]aney. completed in 1868, with its Latin inscription equivalent in meaning
to the concluding line of 'The Portrait'-'They that would look on her must
come to me'. Rossetti's 'Water-Willow' is the frontispiece for Vol. IV.

Jane Burden discovered

Jane was 'discovered' in 1857 with Bessie (her sister) at the theatre in Oxford. At the time Oxford did not have a permanent theatre and this was the Drury Lane touring company who performed in the gymnasium in Oriel Street. Jan Marsh says the play was probably Ben Bolt which I can't trace. It was not very respectable for girls on their own to visit the theater until the end of the century. 

According to]. W. Mackail, Life of William Morris) OUP ed. 1950, i, '40,
it was Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones who first met Jane Burden. Lady
Burne-Jones, in her Memorials of Edward Burne-fones, 1904. i, 168, states that
Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Arthur Hughes and William Morris were all at the
theatre together when the meeting took place.

Friday, October 4, 2013

William Morris from The Earthly Paradise

Other May Morris photographs by Frederick Hollyer


May Morris by Frederick Hollyer

William Morris Gallery, London Borough of Waltham Forest

William Morris by Frederick Hollyer

platinum print, half length, head resting on his right fist, on the original mounting card, Hollyer's copyright stamp on verso with his 9 Pembroke Square address,framed and glazed, size of photograph 5½ x 4 inches (14 x 10 cm), size of image 9 ½ x 7 ½ inches (24 x 19 cm), overall size 14 ½ x 12 ½ inches (37 x 32 cm) [1886] 

This celebrated photograph of Morris, by his friend and colleague, was taken in 1886 and was produced later that year as a photogravure by Walker and Boutall. A version of it was kept by May Morris in her album (Ashmolean).


William Morris, early 1890s by Henry Halliday Sparling

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rossetti as designer


interesting but Jane's role is not mentioned.
She designed her own clothes; they went shopping for jewelry together and I would guess helped with the poses. We know gradually that she helped William with his work in the early days much more than was once realised

Friday, September 27, 2013

John Robert Parsons

19th century photographer, John Robert Parsons (1825-1909) He infamously shot those series of photos of Jane Morris in 1865.

thanks so much Kimberly 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ada Peerless

Kimberly has kindly pointed out that in this photograph from Kelmscott (1905), Ada Peerless is named as Jenny's companion, the only one we know of though I can't trace any details. She may also be in this picture as well

but is not named.

Jenny (along with May) had a very comfortable income averaging just over £700 / annum derived from her Fathers dividends and sales. She seems to have settled in the country and Sidney Cockerell implies she was heavily sedated in her last years with a corresponding mental decline and was worse if she visited Kelmscott where she wandered sadly looking for her Father (not her Mother note).

Jenny left her posessions including books fom her Father to May and they later went to the V&A. She died at Over Stowey in Somerset on 11 July 1935 at 74 (the same age Jane died) of diabetes (her Father's disease too). The Kelmscott village hall was partly funded by her.

Jane's 'education'

Although the details are not known, it seems clear that Jane was privately educated before her marriage. Her keen intelligence allowed her essentially to re-create herself. She read widely, became proficient in French and later Italian, and was an accomplished pianist. Her manners and speech became refined to such an extent that contemporaries referred to her manner as ‘regal’ or ‘queenly’. Jane Burden married William Morris on 26 April 1859 at St Michael's Church, Oxford.

Oxford DNB

from the diary of Edmund New

[willows by the river]

A fascinating glimpse of life at Kelmscott from the diary of Edmund New (an illustrator 1895)

Dary of a visit to Kelmscott Manor House. October 1895.
October 8th. Tuesday.

I left Waltham Cross and travelled to London, Oxford, and from
thence to Lechlade by rail. I reached Lechlade station at half past 5 in
the afternoon and found Mr Morris's man (Giles) there with- a
wagonette _in which we drove to Kelmscott, a distance of 3yt miles.
Lechlade is a quaint market town and is picturesque; in the churchyard
Shelley wrote one of his shorter poems. It was dark when we arrived
at the old manor house; to reach it we had to drive through the
village, at the end of which it stands, surrounded on three sides by a
beautiful old walled-in garden and on the fourth bordered by the
farmyard. I was welcomed by Mr and Miss Morris and was taken up
to the Tapestry room where we found Mrs Morris, tall, stately, and
beautiful and one needed not to be told that it was she whose face
Rossetti loved to reproduce. Tea was prepared for me in the dining
room below and Mr and Miss M. sat with me; we then adjourned to
the tapestry room where Mr and Mrs Morris continued their game of
draughts, their regular evening employment, and at intervals we conversed. We supped at half past seven. "Ve retired before eleven. My bedroom led out of the tapestry room through a secret door and its
dimensions were small. The only other door led through Mr Morris's
room, so that no one could leave the room except by passing through
his bedroom.

Wednesday. October 9

We breakfasted at half past 8 o'clock. Mrs M. being an invalid does
not come down until about half past 10. The morning was rainey
[sic] and cold, and much rain had fallen in the night; we therefore
decided not to drive to the Coxwell barn as we had intended, but that
I should draw inside the house and Mr M. should write an article on
it instead of on the barn. I therefore began a drawing in the Tapestry
room which looks out on the front garden and is in the wing added
about 1630; the rest of the house dating from 1570 or thereabouts. The
room was used by D. G. Rossetti as a studio. The rain ceased and Mr,
Miss M. and I had a walk in the fields which stretch level and low by
the river. We found three wild roses in flower. After one o'clock lunch
I continued my drawing in the Tapestry room and wrote letters after
tea and carried them to the post box in the church wall. The village
children were practising the chants and the church windows glowed
through the darkness making a pleasant harmony of sound and colour.
After dinner Mr M. and I sat and talked over his pipe and then joined
the ladies and had some whist before going to bed.

Thursday. Oct. 10.

The morning broke bright and clear and after breakfast we strolled
in the garden where many flowers still continue fresh and the apple
trees are bright with fruit. I soon set to work again while Mr Morris
was designing some cretonnes and Miss Morris knitted; Mrs M. joined
us during the morning and continued embroidering a book cover on
which she was engaged. Mr and Miss M. walked out in the fields and
before lunch I took a walk about the garden, looking at the house from
different points of view. I was at work indoors most of the afternoon
and began a sketch of the back of the house from the field by the
newly planted orchard. After tea I took my letters to post and walked
towards Langford. We had a talk on Socialism after dinner and a good
game of whist. Mr M. retired early as he had to leave first thing the
following morning, and I sat up a bit and looked at the moonlight
which lit up the front of the house in its mysterious way and poured
through the heavy mullioned windows.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jane and Jenny Morris

There were times when Jenny (1904 for instance) when Jenny seemed better and showed her natural intelligence. But to live knowing she would inevitably have another attack, never marry, never fulfill her obvious potential.

There are long letters to her from her Father but seemingly none from her Mother. Jenny was said to be very upset at Jane's funeral though. After that time she seldom visited Kelmscott and May, living in various accommodations on the South Coast with carers. Her letters have never been collected though Kimberly posted on one she found recently. So many questions still.


Jenny Morris and epilepsy


on Victorian epilepsy


Saturday, September 21, 2013

More on the mysterious photos

Hi, well, it seems I have the identity of our May Morris look-alike. 
It's actually quite funny, as they couldn't be two different people. 
It's HRH Princess Victoria of Wales, daughter of Queen Alexander and 
Edward VII ! And I have to thank writer, Christina Croft for helping 
to confirm this.

My interest in all this started when I saw some of these photo's and
wondered who had taken them. This has led me to look at Miss Lobb's
life, from her Cornish background, to her time at Kelmscott. I learned
quickly that many of these photographs and scrap books that we have at
the Library belonged to May, and some of the earlier ones, possibly to
Jane. I know from all the loose items associated with them that they
were in Kelmscott, and would have been amounst the items left to MFVL (Miss Lobb)
by May. Now I find they were in possession of what is undoubtebly an
album of Royal snapshots. I am almost certain that many of the photo's
were taken by Alexandra herself on one of the many trips taken to her
homeland, Denmark, for family get-togethers. She is certainly in a
couple of shots with her sister Marie Feodrovna, wife of Tsar
Alexander III among many other easily identifiable faces. These were
occasions exclusive, no one but a member of one of the Royal families
could have taken these particular photographs.

So that leaves us with the small problem of how Royal property ended
up at Kelmscott!

Hoping you are well,

Simon Evans
Museum of Wales

Staff of the Kelmscott Press

William, May and her future husband Sparling
though her marriage was broken by Bernard Shaw, May and Sparling liived together for 4 years and Fiona reports a rumour their was a still born child. Poor May unlucky in so many ways.

Monday, September 9, 2013

May and Miss Lobb

found by Kirsty



In the Morris bedroom is this reproduction of the famous blue serge bed-curtain embroidered by Janey. I have always loved this pattern (daisy) - Red House

and also used for the 
backdrop to Morris Marshall Falkner and Co.’s 
display of furniture and stained glass at the 1862
International Exhibition.