C.S. Lewis Readers' Encyclopedia


"Morris, William" 

Morris, William (1834-96) was a designer, a poet, a political activist and a fantasy novelist. His first book of poems was The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems(1858) In 1861, with Dante Rossetti, Edward Bourne-Jones and others, he formed an artisan firm which initiated the British Arts and Crafts Movement. His poem, The Life and Death of Jason, was published in 1867, followed by The Earthly Paradise(1868-70), the longest poem in the English language. Working with Eirikr Magnusson he then translated several Icelandic sagas. His latter years were devoted to socialist politics, the founding of the Kelmscott Press (1891) and writing the fantasy novels, The Wood Beyond the World(1894) and The Well at the World's End(1896). (Dunlap, 204-225; Goodwin, 138-157)

C.S."Jack" Lewis took notice of Morris when he found a copy of The Well at the World's End in new friend Arthur Greeves's bookcase. He immediately bought his own copy. He writes of Morris being "my great author" at this period (SBJ, 132). In corresponding with Greeves, Morris and his works are mentioned over 75 times, second only to George MacDonald (TST)

Lewis's delivered two lectures on Morris for The Martlets. The second essay, "William Morris," is reprinted in Selected Literary Essays (219-231). This essay attempts to restore Morris to his proper place in English literature. Lewis concluded that "there are many writers greater than Morris. You can go on from him to all sorts of subltleties, delicacies, and sublimities which he lacks. But you can hardly go behind him." (SLE, 231)


Dunlap, Joseph R. "William Morris." in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 18: Victorian Novelists After 1885. ed. Ira B. Nadel and William E. Fredeman. Detroit: Gale Research Co.,1983. (Dunlap)

Goodwin, K.L. "William Morris." in Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 35: Victorian Poets After 1850. ed. Ira B. Nadel and William E. Fredeman. Detroit: Gale Research Co.,1985.(Goodwin)

Hooper, Walter. "To the Martlets."C.S. Lewis: Speaker & Teacher. ed. Carolyn Keefe. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1971): 47-83.

Lewis, C.S. Letters of C.S. Lewis. ed. with a memoir by W.H. Lewis. revised and enlarged. ed. Walter Hooper. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1988. (Letters)

_________. Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life. London: Fontana, 1955.(SBJ)

_________.Selected Literary Essays. ed. Walter Hooper. London: Cambridge University Press, 1969. (SLE)

_________.They Stand Together: The Letters of C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves (1914-1963). ed. Walter Hooper. New York: Macmillan, 1979.(TST)

Morris, William. The Collected Works of William Morris. ed May Morris. New York: Russell & Russell, 1966.

____________. Selected Writings and Designs. ed. with an introduction by Asa Briggs. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1968.

Richard James
Burkesville Christian Church
Burkesville, Kentucky


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Last Updated: Monday, September 03, 2001