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Since his death in 1896, William Morris has come to be regarded as one of the giants of the nineteenth century. But his genius was so many-sided and so profound that its full extent has rarely been grasped. Many people may find it hard to believe that the greatest English designer of his time, possibly of all time, could also be internationally renowned as a founder of the socialist movement, and could have been ranked as a poet together with Tennyson and Browning.
With penetrating insight, Fiona MacCarthy has managed to encompass all the different facets of Morris's complex character, shedding light on his immense creative powers as artist and designer of furniture, fabrics, wallpaper, stained glass, tapestry and books, and as a poet, novelist and translator; his psychology and his emotional life; his frenetic activities as polemicist and reformer; and his remarkable circle of friends, literary, artistic and political.
With her widely acclaimed book Eric Gill, published in 1989, Fiona MacCarthy established herself as one of the leading writers of biography in Britain. This was followed by William Morris (1994), which won several literary awards including the Wolfson History Prize and was described by A.S. Byatt as 'one of the finest biographies ever published in this country.' Byron: Life and Legend (2002) was described as 'one of the great literary biographies of our time' by Mark Bostridge in the Independent on Sunday. Fiona MacCarthy writes regularly for the Guardian and lives in Derbyshire.