21 books like May Morris

By Lynn Hulse,

Here are 21 books that May Morris fans have personally recommended if you like May Morris. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of News from Nowhere

Jan Marsh Author Of The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

From my list on William Morris and his family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a lifelong admiration for William Morris’s eloquent writings on political optimism. And how these fit with the personal life of his wife Janey and daughter May. This began with my biography of the two women, published by the feminist Pandora Press and continuing through to editing Jane Morris’s Collected Letters. Admiration is also critical engagement rather than simple fandom. We need to think, act, and endeavor to promote how we might live better lives in the world. I love the task of relating individual lives in the context of their time. Biography involves historical imagination to fill the gaps in recorded information and conceive how those in the past thought, felt and behaved.   

Jan's book list on William Morris and his family

Jan Marsh Why did Jan love this book?

This is William Morris’s utopian fantasy imaging an egalitarian, ecological, and pacific future for Britain is a perennial political favourite. It challenges each generation to think ‘how we might live’ without capitalist conflict. This book tackles revolutionary change, human nature, work, gender, manufacturing, architecture, economics, ecology, and the uses of imagination in critical analysis. All topics demonstrate the ongoing importance of William Morris’s vision and provoke responses.

By William Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked News from Nowhere as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

News from Nowhere(1890) is the best-known prose work of William Morris and the only significant English utopia to be written since Thomas More's. The novel describes the encounter between a visitor from the nineteenth century, William Guest, and a decentralized and humane socialist future. Set over a century after a revolutionary upheaval in 1952, these "Chapters from a Utopian Romance" recount his journey across London and up the Thames to Kelmscott Manor, Morris's own country house in Oxfordshire. Drawing on the work of John Ruskin and Karl Marx, Morris's book is not only an evocative statement of his egalitarian convictions…


Book cover of William Morris

Jan Marsh Author Of The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

From my list on William Morris and his family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a lifelong admiration for William Morris’s eloquent writings on political optimism. And how these fit with the personal life of his wife Janey and daughter May. This began with my biography of the two women, published by the feminist Pandora Press and continuing through to editing Jane Morris’s Collected Letters. Admiration is also critical engagement rather than simple fandom. We need to think, act, and endeavor to promote how we might live better lives in the world. I love the task of relating individual lives in the context of their time. Biography involves historical imagination to fill the gaps in recorded information and conceive how those in the past thought, felt and behaved.   

Jan's book list on William Morris and his family

Jan Marsh Why did Jan love this book?

Having worked with Anna Mason on the May Morris exhibition and catalogue and admiring her talents, I am delighted to see them devoted to this comprehensive updating of William Morris's creativity in so many spheres.  A real tour de force.  And a volume that both forms the bedrock of Morris's studies and beckons forward toward new explorations.

By Anna Mason,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked William Morris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

William Morris's interests were wide-ranging: he was a poet, writer, political and social activist, conservationist and businessman, as well as a brilliant and original designer and manufacturer. This book explores the balance between Morris's various spheres of activity and influence, places his art in the context of its time and explores his ongoing and far-reaching legacy.

A pioneer of the Arts & Crafts Movement, William Morris (1834-1896) is one of the most influential designers of all time. Morris turned the tide of Victorian England against an increasingly industrialized manufacturing process towards a rediscovered respect for the skill of the maker.…


Book cover of William Morris: A Life for Our Time

Jan Marsh Author Of The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

From my list on William Morris and his family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a lifelong admiration for William Morris’s eloquent writings on political optimism. And how these fit with the personal life of his wife Janey and daughter May. This began with my biography of the two women, published by the feminist Pandora Press and continuing through to editing Jane Morris’s Collected Letters. Admiration is also critical engagement rather than simple fandom. We need to think, act, and endeavor to promote how we might live better lives in the world. I love the task of relating individual lives in the context of their time. Biography involves historical imagination to fill the gaps in recorded information and conceive how those in the past thought, felt and behaved.   

Jan's book list on William Morris and his family

Jan Marsh Why did Jan love this book?

This is a brilliantly written biography by the late lamented MacCarthy, for whom William Morris was the hero of heroes in regard to both design and political ideals. It’s a book that should never go out of print, indispensable to understanding the people, places, and events that determined Morris’s life, work, and historical influence.

By Fiona MacCarthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked William Morris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Wolfson History Prize, and described by A.S.Byatt as 'one of the finest biographies ever published', this is Fiona MacCarthy's magisterial biography of William Morris, legendary designer and father of the Victorian Arts and Crafts movement.

'Thrilling, absorbing and majestic.' Independent
'Wonderfully ambitious ... The definitive Morris biography.' Sunday Times
'Delicious and intelligent, full of shining detail and mysteries respected.' Daily Telegraph
'Oh, the careful detail of this marvellous book! . . . A model of scholarly biography'. New Statesman

Since his death in 1896, William Morris has been celebrated as a giant of the Victorian era. But…


Book cover of Words & Wisdom

Jan Marsh Author Of The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

From my list on William Morris and his family.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve had a lifelong admiration for William Morris’s eloquent writings on political optimism. And how these fit with the personal life of his wife Janey and daughter May. This began with my biography of the two women, published by the feminist Pandora Press and continuing through to editing Jane Morris’s Collected Letters. Admiration is also critical engagement rather than simple fandom. We need to think, act, and endeavor to promote how we might live better lives in the world. I love the task of relating individual lives in the context of their time. Biography involves historical imagination to fill the gaps in recorded information and conceive how those in the past thought, felt and behaved.   

Jan's book list on William Morris and his family

Jan Marsh Why did Jan love this book?

It’s a compact 100+ pages with 80 images, showcasing Morris’s passionately held view that beautiful, functional design should be accessible to all. All expressed through quotations from his own words and those of his friends, colleagues, and biographers.  

Fits in a pocket and is a perfect introduction for those who do not yet know of Morris’s ideas and influence. Also a handy source of quotations on the aesthetics of design.

By William Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Words & Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Born in London in 1834, William Morris was a radical thinker whose democratic vision for society and art has continued to influence designers, artists and writersto this day, long after his death in 1896. He was a gifted poet, architect, painter, writer and textile designer, who also founded the Kelmscott Press, the most famous of the Arts and Crafts private presses. Morris's ideas later came to influence the Garden City movement, as well as numerous artists and craftspeople, who sought to negotiate a viable place within the modern world in the troubled years that followed the First World War. His…


Book cover of The Nature Of Gothic

Richard Weston Author Of 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture

From my list on that formed my understanding of architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by architecture and landscape architecture since discovering the work of Le Corbusier at the age of sixteen. Most of my life has been spent teaching and writing about it - fifteen books and numerous articles - with occasional forays into designing and building. I took early retirement as a Professor of  Architecture in 2013, the year after enjoying ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame’ on a BBC TV series featuring the development of my ‘mineral scarves’ for Liberty of London. This led to a creative app and website for children called Molly’s World (to be launched in 2024) and on my seventieth birthday in 2023 I launched an architectural and garden design studio.

Richard's book list on that formed my understanding of architecture

Richard Weston Why did Richard love this book?

Extracted from Ruskin’s three-volume account of ‘The Stones of Venice’, this was published with an introduction by William Morris, Ruskin’s greatest disciple and founder of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Ruskin’s High Victorian writing style is a barrier to some, but he is the greatest English writer on architecture whose ideas about the importance of craftsmanship and moral value of authentic architecture are an antidote to our present condition.

Extolling the virtues of ‘Savageness’, ‘Changefulness’ and ‘Love of Nature’ his ideas are newly relevant as we address the environmental and social consequences of the Industrial Revolution he detested for its impact on our humanity.

By John Ruskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Nature Of Gothic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.


Book cover of Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement

Kirsty Stonell Walker Author Of Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang: Fifty Makers, Shakers and Heartbreakers from the Victorian Era

From my list on aspiring Pre-Raphaelite women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I absolutely love the Pre-Raphaelites, they are my utter passion and these books are the fuel for that fire. Who wouldn't want to be a Pre-Raphaelite woman? Smart, talented, resourceful, these women define what it is to make a mark and great some of the most ground-breaking art in history. I'm particularly obsessed with Pre-Raphaelite women, the artists and muses who created the art we love so much today. After spending almost 30 years researching their lives and loves, it's now my absolute pleasure in telling everyone about these astonishing women, and why we should love them and learn from them.

Kirsty's book list on aspiring Pre-Raphaelite women

Kirsty Stonell Walker Why did Kirsty love this book?

Of course, women of the Pre-Raphaelite movement were not only on the canvas, they also were the artists responsible for a vast array of art in different mediums, from painting and sculpture to enameling and embroidery. The later years of the Victorian period saw women flocking to art schools and claiming the profession from their male counterparts and freeing them to create art that equally defines the Pre-Raphaelite and subsequent movements.

By Martin Ellis, Timothy Barringer, Victoria Osborne

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Victorian Radicals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although the word "Victorian" connotes a kind of dry propriety, the artists working in the Victorian era were anything but. Starting with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and lasting through the dawn of the 20th century, the era's painters, writers, and designers challenged every prevailing belief about art and its purpose. The full spectrum of the Victorian avant- garde is in magnificent display in this book that features nearly 150 works drawn from the Birmingham Museum's unparalleled collection. Characterized by attention to detail, vibrant colors, and engagement with literary themes and daily life, the paintings, works on paper, and decorative objects featured…


Book cover of Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times

Lilith Saintcrow Author Of A Flame in the North

From my list on European history books for writing Western epic fantasy.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like any writer, I’m fascinated with what makes people tick and why they act the way they do. Naturally, this means I read a lot of history. I love reference reading; I love researching arcane questions for a tiny detail that will bring a character or their world to life. Creating epic fantasy is an extension of both my drives as a reader and a writer. Pouring myself into characters who inhabit different settings is a deeply satisfying exercise in both craft and empathy, and each history book has some small bit I can use to make my settings more compelling, more enjoyable for readers, and more real.

Lilith's book list on European history books for writing Western epic fantasy

Lilith Saintcrow Why did Lilith love this book?

Too often, our idea of history (or prehistory) is of men doing things and women silently following. Barber dives into the history of textiles to show how spinning, weaving, and cloth were not only drivers of culture and civilization but also a major technological achievement akin to harnessing fire and developing agriculture.

I was blown away both by the book’s premise and by the obvious passion and breadth of knowledge Barber brought to showing just how the stunning leap forward taken by women with spindles kick-started what we think of as civilization.

We take clothes for granted, but the first person to think of cloth rather than animal skins gave a great gift to humanity, one which may never be equaled.

By Elizabeth Wayland Barber,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Women's Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New discoveries about the textile arts reveal women's unexpectedly influential role in ancient societies.

Twenty thousand years ago, women were making and wearing the first clothing created from spun fibers. In fact, right up to the Industrial Revolution the fiber arts were an enormous economic force, belonging primarily to women.

Despite the great toil required in making cloth and clothing, most books on ancient history and economics have no information on them. Much of this gap results from the extreme perishability of what women produced, but it seems clear that until now descriptions of prehistoric and early historic cultures have…


Book cover of The Thread Collectors

Molly O'Keefe Author Of The Sunshine Girls

From my list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have loved historical novels since my mom first read Anne of Green Gables to me as a kid. They are the novels I reach for first and love the most. The creative glimpse into other times and lives is, to me, the most exciting reading experience. I hope you enjoy these books as much as I do. My latest book – The Sunshine Girls is a dual narrative timeline, set in the current day and the 1960s-1980s. 

Molly's book list on historical fiction NOT set during World War II

Molly O'Keefe Why did Molly love this book?

This novel set in 1863 during the Civil War, about two women – one enslaved in New Orleans, the other Jewish and living in New York City who risk everything for the soldiers they love. There is so much fascinating historical detail in this book - the war, the experience of Black men as soldiers, the brutal life of enslaved women in the deep south, the community they created because of and despite of the brutality. Northern free women and their domestic roles and limitations – the communities they built. It’s about bravery and needlepoint. Seriously.

By Shaunna J. Edwards, Alyson Richman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Thread Collectors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“An unforgettable story of female strength, hope and friendship. This collaborative work is magnificent—a true revelation!” —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman with the Blue Star

“A brilliant story brimming with unexpected friendships and family ties. Historically sound and beautifully stitched, The Thread Collectors will stay with you long after the last page is turned.” —Sadeqa Johnson, international bestselling author of Yellow Wife  

1863: In a small Creole cottage in New Orleans, an ingenious young Black woman named Stella embroiders intricate maps on repurposed cloth to help enslaved men flee and join the Union Army. Bound…


Book cover of The Subversive Stitch: Embroidery and the Making of the Feminine

Clare Hunter Author Of Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle

From my list on needlework that will surprise and move you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have sewn since I was a child, taught by my mother to keep me out of mischief. From having the best-dressed dolls in the neighbourhood I graduated to making my own, sometimes outlandish, forms of fashion and then became a banner maker and community textile artist. Sewing is in my DNA and I love the tactile, rhythmic soothe of it. But I have long been curious about how, in the many books are published about needlework, very few ever mention why people sew. This is what fascinates me, the stories of sewing, because it is through its purpose that we discover the spirit that lies within it. 

Clare's book list on needlework that will surprise and move you

Clare Hunter Why did Clare love this book?

I read this book in the early 1980s when it was first published and it changed my view of sewing and made me understand its cultural importance and how its value has been diminished over the centuries. It is a seminal landmark feminist book, the first to ever explore why sewing is perceived as just women’s work. Parker debates the nature of women’s embroidery through time, the dutiful and the radical, the artistic and the unacknowledged and if it hadn’t been for this book I would never have become fascinated about people who sew not simply to decorate clothes or their homes but to campaign, celebrate, conserve their stories and make their mark.    

By Rozsika Parker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Subversive Stitch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Rozsika Parker's re-evaluation of the reciprocal relationship between women and embroidery has brought stitchery out from the private world of female domesticity into the fine arts, created a major breakthrough in art history and criticism, and fostered the emergence of today's dynamic and expanding crafts movements.

The Subversive Stitch is now available again with a new Introduction that brings the book up to date with exploration of the stitched art of Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin, as well as the work of new young female and male embroiderers. Rozsika Parker uses household accounts, women's magazines, letters, novels and the works…


Book cover of Felbrigg: The Story of a House

Lindsay Allason-Jones Author Of Roman Woman: Everyday Life in Hadrian's Britain

From my list on how people in different periods or cultures lived their lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an archaeologist, mostly working in the Roman period. Until I retired in 2011, I was the Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Artefact Studies and Reader in Roman Material Culture at Newcastle University, having previously been the Director of Archaeological Museums for the University. My working life started by specialising in identifying those small items which come out of every excavation, but more and more I became interested in what those artefacts told us about the people who lived on the site. Reading books about peoples’ lives in other cultures and periods provides insight into those people of the past for whom we have little documentary evidence.

Lindsay's book list on how people in different periods or cultures lived their lives

Lindsay Allason-Jones Why did Lindsay love this book?

Although this is the story of a house from the early 17th century to the 1960s, it offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the four families who lived there in turn as they won and lost fortunes, married well and badly, and survived the events of history.

By R W Ketton-Cremer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Felbrigg as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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