Let’s talk about William Morris!


Hey Guys,

This is my last post for today!

Have you ever heard of William Morris?He was a British writer, artist and editor from the end of the 19th century.

He wrote a novel, “News from Nowhere” (1890) which is an utopia.

In the 19th century, London was a poverty stricken city in the midst of an industrial revolution. It was also the end of the British domination.  Previously denounced by Dickens and Blake, the situation was extremely bad and most people can’t lead a decent life.

Morris dreamed of a better city, an ideal place with no deaths, no diseases and no poverty.

The extract is set in London and the narrator is a young man who crosses the Thames and falls asleep on the other side. When he wakes up, everything has changed.

At first, the narrator is bewildered and utterly shocked. The river Thames ain’t dark and muddy anymore, it’s clean and clear. So clean the narrator bathes in it and some people are fishing. The waterman is an educated and good-looking young man with fine clothing and a quick spirit. London’s architecture and buildings have also changed: the factories and smokes are gone and the bridge was turned into a majestic and solid monument. The Buildings are fancy and clean, there’s no more soot.

An ideal city should be beautiful and it’s buildings useful. People feel better in a nice environment. Most have their place in the city. London must also respect its nature, if not, people will die. People are joyful and friendly, hunger has disappeared.

We can make a parallel between Morris’ utopia and the Cox architect.

Oliver Cox was an Architect and from 1950 to 1959, he was part of the LCC Architects’ Department. He was one of the people who designed new buildings estates in Roehampton. He stated : “We were trying to build Heaven on Earth”. He was greatly influenced by Morris and the arts and crafts movement (1860-1910) which conveyed true values. Their ideal was to oppose hand-made goods instead of mass produced goods. They had a “romantic” vision of society and a very powerful vision for a world devastated by war and under the menace of atomic destruction.

Their goal was to transform a wealthy area into a socially mixed area in order to reduce the gaps between rich and poor people. When the buildings were finished, they were given to the poorest people who finally had a true shelter and decent living conditions. The architects tried to recreate Morris’ vision of London by having a beautiful city where social classes were mixed and not separated. Even though some aspects were achieved (such as the respect of nature) it did not quite turn out like Morris’ vision.

We also reflected a short while on our vision of utopia …But it’ll probably be for a next post ^^’.

Good night everyone!

(picture credit: Daria-ts– no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)

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