News from Nowhere caused a stir with its unusual blend of utopian socialism and science fiction when it was first published in instalments in William Morris’s socialist newspaper The Commonweal in 1890. The Kelmscott Press edition, printed in 1892 and reproduced in this facsimile edition, was a triumph of book design and making.
After attending a Socialist League meeting and returning home to the London suburb of Hammersmith, narrator William Guest awakens the next day to find himself in the twenty-first century. Industrial buildings have been transformed into a pastoral paradise; civilians are dressed in fourteenth-century costume; there is an abundance of open-air markets and wooded areas and gardens; and money, prisons and divorce have been abolished. The bewildered but enchanted Guest embarks on a journey across London and up the Thames to Kelmscott Manor, during which he learns that England, now called ‘Nowhere’, has become a decentralized and humane socialist society following a revolutionary upheaval. Part utopia and part romance, News from Nowhere is William Morris’s depiction of an ideal nation peopled with ‘happy and lovely folk, who had cast away riches and attained to wealth.’
In its appreciation that industrial capitalism has alienated us from the world we actually inhabit, News from Nowhere is as relevant today as when it was first published. The beautiful Kelmscott Press edition, like the narrative itself, embodies Morris’s belief that art and beauty should be accessible to all.