May Morris (1862–1938), younger daughter of William Morris, was a highly original designer and leading female exponent of the British Arts & Crafts movement. Specializing in embroidery, she designed some of Morris & Co.’s most important textiles, and clients as far afield as Australia and the US collected her work. Long overshadowed by her famous father, to whom her work was often attributed then and since, May contributed to the enduring popularity of Morris designs. May was one of the leading pioneers of ‘art embroidery’ and helped raise its status from an amateur pastime to a serious pursuit, requiring skills in design, colouring and technique. She disseminated her ideas through publications, lectures and by teaching at many of the leading art schools, influencing a generation of students in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
This book, and accompanying exhibition at the William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, covers the full range of May Morris’s, work, from watercolours and designs to exquisite embroideries, book covers, costume and jewellery. It offers new insights into May’s personal life and relationships, her social activism and her efforts to support other professional women who sought to make a living as artists and designers.