Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Beginnings and Endings

In Norman and Jeanne MacKenzie's 'The First Fabians' (1977) we learn that the early Fabian Sydney Olivier, "a great admirer of Morris, would read his work aloud to Margaret [his wife] in the evenings' - to the point, indeed, where 'they named their second child Brunhild after the heroine in Morris's romantic saga "Sigurd the Volsung"' (p.99). Shades of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one can't help thinking, who used to name his children after whichever philosopher he happened to be reading at the time.

A less cheerful, rather more solemn, use of Morris's works was made by the prominent Christian Socialist Henry Scott Holland. For according to the 'Oxford Dictionary of National Biography', Scott Holland 'died in his house at Christ Church, Oxford, early on a Sunday morning, 17 March 1918, after reciting Wordsworth's "Yarrow Revisited" and having William Morris's "The House of the Wolfings" read to him' (vol 27, p.670). The whole of it, one asks in amazement?

There must be many other instances across the years of Morris's works being used to mark significant 'rites de passage' in his admirers' lives. It would certainly be interesting to draw a chrestomathy of such examples together...

2 comments:

Tony Pinkney said...

In the Winter 2008 issue of the William Morris Society Journal, Michael Bloor notes that the pioneer socialist James Leatham (who published an early study of Morris in 1908) named his eldest daughter May Morris Leatham (p.22)

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