100 books like William Morris

By Fiona MacCarthy,

Here are 100 books that William Morris fans have personally recommended if you like William 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 May Morris: Art & Life New Perspectives

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?

May Morris, daughter of the more famous William, was a renowned designer and craftswoman. She shared her father’s political ideals and took them forward through the textile arts of the Arts & Crafts Movement. 

Edited by embroidery artist and historian Lynne Hulse, this book brings together a wide range of new essays on facets of May Morris’s life and career. It complements the lavishly illustrated exhibition catalogue May Morris: Arts & Crafts Designer. Together these two titles provide all currently available details of May’s work, all too often overshadowed by that of her father.

By Lynn Hulse,

Why should I read it?

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


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 Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts

Markus Eberl Author Of War Owl Falling: Innovation, Creativity, and Culture Change in Ancient Maya Society

From my list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an archaeologist, I love prehistoric things and what can I learn from them about the people that made them and left them behind. I study ancient Maya commoners in what is now modern Guatemala. Their material remains are humble but include depictions and symbols normally found in the palaces of Maya kings and queens. First I wondered and then I studied how the title-giving war owl fell into the hands of Maya commoners. By approaching this process as innovation, I discuss creativity in the past and cultural changes that result from it.

Markus' book list on innovation in the past when this wasn't yet a thing

Markus Eberl Why did Markus love this book?

I admit that modern technology and its products are fascinating; marveling at a smartphone makes me realize, though, that I have for the most part no clue how to repair and even less so how to make it. This is not only my dilemma – Langlands discusses the challenges of making things with your own hands. His book inspired me to ask my students to collect clay, make pottery, and fire it in a course I teach. Apart from the DIY aspect, I was enthralled by his discussion of crafting as a state of being engaged. You have to know your skills and your resources very well to make a great pot!

By Alexander Langlands,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Faced with an endless supply of mass-manufactured products, we find ourselves nostalgic for goods bearing the mark of authenticity-hand-made tools, local brews, and other objects produced by human hands. Archaeologist and medieval historian Alexander Langlands reaches as far back as the Neolithic period to recover our lost sense of craft, combining deep history with detailed scientific analyses and his own experiences making traditional crafts. Craft brims with vivid storytelling, rich descriptions of natural landscape, and delightful surprises that will convince us to introduce more craft into our lives.


Book cover of The Flight of Icarus: Artisan Autobiography in Early Modern Europe

James R. Farr Author Of Who Was William Hickey? A Crafted Life in Georgian England and Imperial India

From my list on autobiography, memory, identity, and the self.

Why am I passionate about this?

I stumbled upon Hickey’s memoirs and while reading them became captivated not only by the frequently hilarious episodes he recounts from his life, but also by the subject of autobiography and how narrating our life story somehow projects a sense of self and identity to the reader. Trying to grasp this process led me to exploring a wide range of books, and opened up understanding of how our selves are fashioned and what they mean to others. An endlessly fascinating subject.

James' book list on autobiography, memory, identity, and the self

James R. Farr Why did James love this book?

Amelang’s book is one-of-a-kind, a non-fiction study of hundreds of autobiographies by a group of people from whom one would not expect literary productions: common artisans and tradesmen and women. He explores through their writings covering several hundred years how a sense of individuality gradually emerged over time, pointing toward the appearance of the modern self.

By James S. Amelang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Exploring autobiographical texts written by European urban craftsmen from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, this wide-ranging book studies memoirs, diaries, family chronicles, travel narratives, and other forms of personal writings from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and England. In the process, it considers the motivations of the authors, the changing forms and emphases of artisan narratives, and, more generally, the significance of written self-expression in early modern popular culture. By analyzing reading and writing as practices laden with social meaning, this work aims to illuminate the changing role of the lower classes and other groups considered marginal in the history…


Book cover of The Silk House

Deborah Swift Author Of The Poison Keeper: An enthralling historical novel of Renaissance Italy

From my list on historical fiction to immerse you in the old skills of artisans and craftspeople.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historical fiction author but have always enjoyed actually making things as well as writing. In the past, I was a theatre designer, so I was often immersed in recreating antique objects for the stage. Our versions weren’t the real thing–but it meant researching old crafts and then imitating them to build a convincing fake version. My research filled me with great admiration and respect for the real craftsmen of the past–their skill and artistry, and I only have to look at our old cathedrals–so lovingly created, to be inspired all over again.

Deborah's book list on historical fiction to immerse you in the old skills of artisans and craftspeople

Deborah Swift Why did Deborah love this book?

I used to work as a costume designer, so I admit I have a bit of a thing for old textiles. I couldn’t resist this book, which features the silk trade and has a mystery at its heart.

The three women whose fates are linked by the Silk House in a quiet market town are all interesting characters, and their lives are linked together well by the author over the span of the 17th to 21st centuries.

The book contains two of my favourite interests, the historical silk trade and the ancient healing powers of herbal medicine. It also rattles along at a good pace and has a lovely surprise of an ending. 

By Kayte Nunn,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Artisans in Europe, 1300-1914

Henry C. Clark Author Of Compass of Society: Commerce and Absolutism in Old-Regime France

From my list on understanding where “capitalism” came from.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have long found it mysterious how we can live in what is truly one interconnected global order. Traders, merchants, deal-makers have long been viewed with suspicion. I wrote Compass of Society to explore how one country, France, with its tradition of land-based elites, could contemplate remaking itself as a “commercial society.” Adam Smith said that even in his time, everyone “becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself... a commercial society.” Revisionists are finding high levels of commercialization even in premodern China and India. In this list, I picked five of my favorite books that reshaped our understanding of where European “capitalism” came from.

Henry's book list on understanding where “capitalism” came from

Henry C. Clark Why did Henry love this book?

Though sometimes described as a “textbook,” this authoritative, lucidly written, and altogether reliable synthesis—covering much of Europe—is actually a fine way to learn about the guild masters who dominated pre-industrial labor. Their paradoxical condition comes through clearly: employers and employees, they were at once seamlessly integrated into the social hierarchy and ruthlessly exclusionary toward outsiders. They touted a timeless, divinely sanctioned order, while also being true wheelers and dealers for their own honor and interests, leading to levels of entrepreneurship and inequality amongst their own ranks that would surprise many.

By James R. Farr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Artisans in Europe, 1300-1914 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a survey of the history of work in general and of European urban artisans in particular, from the late middle ages to the era of industrialization. Unlike traditional histories of work and craftsmen, this book offers a multi-faceted understanding of artisan experience situated in the artisans' culture. It treats economic and institutional topics, but also devotes considerable attention to the changing ideologies of work, the role of government regulation in the world of work, the social history of craftspeople, the artisan in rebellion against the various authorities in his world, and the ceremonial and leisure life of…


Book cover of Making Modern Meals: How Americans Cook Today

David E. Sutton Author Of Bigger Fish to Fry: A Theory of Cooking as Risk, with Greek Examples

From my list on scholarly reads about cooking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested in food, even as young as 3 years old I remember wanting to taste everything, and I found the process of cooking fascinating. But I really got interested in food as a topic for research during my time studying Greek culture for my PhD thesis. People on the island of Kalymnos, where I’ve conducted research for 30 years, made a strong connection between food and memory, but it was a connection that few scholars have written about until recently. So I’ve been excited to participate in a new field reflected by all of these books, and hope you will be as well.

David's book list on scholarly reads about cooking

David E. Sutton Why did David love this book?

This book really debunks many of the myths about how and whether Americans cook today.

I loved the way that the author took us  into the thoughts and practices of contemporary home cooks going about their daily cooking. I also found fascinating the comparison and contrast with those who have taken up artisanal production of sourdough bread and other skilled food products.

By Amy B. Trubek,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Home cooking is crucial to our lives but it is not necessary to our survival. Over the past century, it has become an everyday choice even though it is no longer an everyday chore. By looking closely at the stories and practices of American home cooks-witnessing them in the kitchen and at the table-Amy B. Trubek reveals our episodic but also engaged relationship to making meals. Making Modern Meals explores the state of American cooking across all its varied practices, whether cooking is considered a chore, a craft, or a creative process. Trubek challenges current assumptions about who cooks, who…


Book cover of King’s Envoy

Walter Rhein Author Of The Reader of Acheron

From my list on from criminally oppressed and exploited authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been working professionally as a writer for twenty-five years. I’m nothing close to a household name, but a number of my articles have gone viral throughout the years. I’ve had educators reach out to mention they’ve taught my work at both the high school and college levels. Writing is an occupation of passion, and the authors I’ve mentioned are all talented and passionate about their craft. It’s rare to find people who speak the truth anywhere in our society. These writers don’t just speak the truth, they make it sing.

Walter's book list on from criminally oppressed and exploited authors

Walter Rhein Why did Walter love this book?

Cas Peace is an extremely talented author. Her Artesans of Albia series is a well-realized work of fantasy and magic. Her world-building is exceptional, and the whole series has a tremendous sense of history. This is a series that you can truly sink your teeth into.

By Cas Peace,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King’s Envoy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Taran Elijah's quest for knowledge uncovers a plot that threatens the world...In Albia, the fourth realm, the precious Artesan gift is dying. Although born to the craft, Taran is struggling to achieve his potential. Against his friends' advice, he embarks on a foolhardy plan to acquire the teaching he craves. Alone, he crosses into Andaryon, the fifth realm, but instead of finding a mentor, he stumbles upon a treacherous plot.In the wake of Taran's actions, Albia suffers a series of vicious raids. Major Sullyan of the High King's forces is sent to oppose them. But a dark and treacherous force…


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