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May Morris: Conference to examine influence of Arts and Crafts pioneer

The William Morris Gallery is to host a landmark conference presenting important new insights into the career of leading arts and crafts designer May Morris, the younger daughter of William and Jane Morris.

The event, which marks 30 years since the publication of Jan Marsh’s seminal biography, Jane and May Morris – A Biographical Story, will bring together new research on May’s life and work from curators, academics and independent scholars. The conclusions of the conference will inform a major new exhibition of May Morris’s work at the William Morris Gallery in 2017.

May Morris was a professional designer, embroiderer, teacher and writer. She exhibited widely in the UK and abroad, founded the Women’s Guild of Arts and was responsible for designing some of Morris & Co’s most iconic textiles. May also participated in the early Socialist Movement and was instrumental in preserving and shaping her father’s legacy.

Included in the two-day study event are visits to the V&A’s Clothworkers’ Centre and the William Morris Gallery’s collection store to view rare May Morris textiles. Delegates will also have the opportunity to take part in a riverside walk exploring the environment in which May lived and worked in Hammersmith, led by the William Morris Society.

The keynote lecture will be delivered by Jan Marsh, who will reflect on the growth of public and academic interest in May Morris’s career since the publication of her biography in 1986.

Jan Marsh, writer and President of the William Morris Society, said: “Always overshadowed by her illustrious father and also by her mother’s reputation as a Pre-Raphaelite muse, and originally ignored by the Dictionary of National Biography, May Morris has never received the attention her own achievements deserve. This Conference will explore many facets of her career, bringing a wealth of recent research into view.”

Anna Mason, Manager of the William Morris Gallery, said: “May Morris was a talented designer and maker and made a unique contribution to the international development of art embroidery. The William Morris Gallery holds a rich archive and is delighted to be collaborating with our partner organisations to convene this conference. We hope it will bring even more new material to light in advance of the exhibition planned in 2017.”

Notes to editors

May Morris Conference 2016 

Friday 13 May and Saturday 14 May 2016 

William Morris Gallery, Forest Road, London, E17 4PP

The full programme can be viewed at Single and two day tickets can also be bought via this link.

The conference is open to the general public as well as those with an academic or professional interest in May Morris’s life and work.

For further information and images please contact Ian Mason: 

Tel: 020 8496 4726 

Mob: 07740 046143 


About the William Morris Gallery

The William Morris Gallery is the only public Gallery devoted to William Morris: designer, craftsman and radical socialist. Housed in the grade II* listed building that was Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856, the Gallery reopened in August 2012 following a major redevelopment that attracted widespread public and press acclaim.

Since its re-launch the Gallery has developed an ambitious exhibition programme, hosting Morris-inspired exhibitions by artists including Grayson Perry, Jeremy Deller, Yinka Shonibare and Bob and Roberta Smith.

The Gallery, which is owned and run by Waltham Forest Council, was awarded the Art Fund prize for Museum of the Year in 2013 and was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award in 2014.

The Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm; admission is free. Visit

If you would like more information about any of these press releases or have a different media enquiry please contact us at or on 020 8496 4521 / 4802.

For out of hours please email or call 07966 915 157.