Perpetuating the memory of one of the greatest men of the Victorian age

We are delighted to host a launch event for Florence Boos’ new edition of William Morris’s Socialist Diary on Wednesday 21st March.

William Morris was the most prominent Victorian artist to embrace the new socialist movement of the 1880s. Written at Kelmscott House in 1887, the Socialist Diary is one of only two extended diaries of his activities which he kept in his life, each of which represents an effort to record and analyse experiences of a new phase of his work and thought.

Editor of the Socialist Diary Florence Boos, author/editor of several books on Morris and Professor of English at the University of Iowa, will be in conversation with Martin Stott, Chair of The William Morris Society. Florence will sign copies of her book which will be available to purchase.

This is a free event but space is limited, so please reserve your tickets here.

Our museum will be open as usual on Thursdays and Saturdays from 2-5pm during the festive period. If you need a last minute gift, we have lots of ideas in our shop! You can find Christmas cards, calendars, handmade Morris decorations for your Christmas tree, a selection of mugs and limited edition William Morris packs of Taylors of Harrogate coffee, beautiful silk scarves and much more…

Iceland elected a new Prime Minister in November 2017. She is Katrin Jakobsdottir, leader of Vinstri Graen (RedGreen). She served as Minister for Education, Science and Culture in the Green Left Government of 2009-13 and has taught at the University of Iceland where she is a specialist in Scandi crime literature. She is also an enthusiastic Morrisian and gave a lecture to the Society tour in 2013.

In the lecture, entitled Good afternoon Mr Morris she demonstrated an extraordinary knowledge both of Morris’s range of contributions to society, culture and politics, but also to their continuing impacts in Iceland. She structured her talk after the time travel of News from Nowhere, around the idea of Morris’s reappearance in present day Iceland ‘our demented age’, where he joins her and her two brothers in a discussion over dinner.

The themes of their ‘discussion’ ranged over what she considered to be likely to be Morris’s chief interests on his return; the survival of the Icelandic way of life including the way Icelandic embroidery has influenced modern Icelandic design; the preservation of historic houses and the pressures of redevelopment;  Morris’s views on how to build new businesses based on beauty and quality; the importance of the local as opposed to the mass-produced;  the difficulties faced by socialism, particularly ‘the fragmentation that seems to be a constant of the political left wing, exactly as he experienced in the late nineteenth century’; democracy and the role of the media including social media and the experience of direct democracy in Iceland’s recent history; the chasm between the power of big corporations and the working class; the integration in perspective between ‘domestic beautification’ and the class struggle and equality; sustainability and the intrinsic value of wilderness, and finally his likely views on ‘Game of Thrones’.

A feminist, socialist, peace activist and climate change campaigner, she leads a coalition of centre right parties who mainly represent fishing and farming interests and are strongly Eurosceptic.

Photograph: Katrin Jakobsdottir centre, with current and former Society chairs Marin Stott and Ruth Levitas in a pub in Reykjavik.

The Society’s Trustees are looking to appoint a new Chair for the Society when Martin Stott steps down in 2018 after four years in post.
The role involves:

  • Chairing Trustee meetings and managing Trustee/staff and Trustee processes – including convening and chairing the Finance and General Purposes Committee – between meetings
  • Engaging with external partners e.g. through the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Arts & Crafts Hammersmith project
  • Managing the Society staff
  • Acting (with others) as the public face of the Society

Enthusiasm for the ideas and legacy of William Morris and his circle, the ability to lead and take a strategic perspective, and having the skills and experience to manage staff and chair meetings are essential. Knowledge of the charity sector and its governance, and of the museums and arts sector are highly desirable. Fundraising and financial skills are very helpful.
The Society is in an exciting period of its development as it takes up the challenges of the successful Arts and Crafts Hammersmith project.
The post is unpaid though expenses are paid, takes approximately 3-4 days per month, requires reasonable accessibility to London (the Society is based in Hammersmith) and might attract someone recently retired from senior management in the public, private or voluntary sectors.
The post holder will be co-opted onto the Trustee Board as soon as is convenient, to take up the post from the May 2018 AGM.
For further details please contact the Society’s Administrator here.

The craftsman who made one of the beautiful bookcases in our library recently visited the Society after more than 20 years. Read the story of his visit here.

The Society’s Annual Report for 2016 is now available to read here.

The Society’s 2017 AGM will take place at 14.15 on Saturday 20 May, in the Coach House, 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith W6 9TA. An election for Trustees will be held during the meeting.

Members are encouraged to attend, but please note that the talk which follows the meeting is now sold out.

For further information please contact: societymanager@williammorrissociety.org.uk.

The Society is looking to recruit Trustees to start at the AGMs in May 2017 or 2018. We are looking for people with some knowledge and interest in William Morris and his circle, and some understanding and preferably experience of the operation of charities and the role of Trustees. The Trustee Board is responsible for the effective operation of the Society and its partnerships, such as Arts & Crafts Hammersmith and is seeking Trustees with a skill that can contribute to the body of Trustee expertise. Specifically these include:

  • Fundraising
  • Communications, particularly social media
  • Governance and legal
  • Property and asset management
  • Business planning and strategy
  • Staff management and HR

The commitment involved

Trustees need to be members of the Society and live in the UK. Trustees serve for three year terms, renewable.

The commitment is to attend, participate in and read the relevant papers for four Trustee meetings a year, attend the AGM and occasional away days and to participate actively in the activities of the Society. This would include serving on one of its committees, and taking a lead on some aspect of the management of the Society.

The rewards of being a WMS Trustee

The Trustee Board sets the strategic direction for all the Society’s activities and provides a unique opportunity to engage with a dynamic organization working to promote the relevance of Morris’s ideas to contemporary audiences.

Out of pocket expenses are paid for trustee duties, and volunteers, which include trustees, are able to take advantage of a discount on items bought in the Society shop.

For further information or an informal discussion please contact the Chair, Martin Stott on:

01865 721482 or email: info@williammorrissociety.org.uk

The latest Limited Edition coffee from Taylors of Harrogate is a chocolately, citrussy blend of coffees from Colombia and Rwanda which features Morris’s 1872 design ‘Jasmine’ on the pack. Taylors’ designers visited the Society’s archives last year and selected this beautiful image, which is currently on display in the Coach House. The coffee is available now in supermarkets including Waitrose, Sainsbury and Morrisons.

Enjoy your cuppa!

The Society is sorry to report the death of our former secretary, Ronald Briggs, on 28 December 2016 at the age of 90. Ronald was a founder member of the Society; indeed as the first to pay his subscription he held Membership No.1. He was the dominant figure in the Society for a quarter of a century, serving as secretary from 1957-1980, and also editing the Newsletter and the Journal. His efforts undoubtedly put the Society on the map, indeed many suggest that without him it would not have survived in those early years.

His funeral will take place at Salisbury Crematorium on Thursday 12 January at 11.30am. A fuller obituary will appear in the Journal in due course.