William Morris (1834-1896)
William Morris was born in Walthamstow, Essex, on 24 March 1834. The son of a wealthy businessman, he enjoyed a comfortable childhood before going to Marlborough and Exeter College, Oxford. He originally intended to take holy orders, but his reading of the social criticism of Carlyle, Kingsley and Ruskin led him to reconsider the Church and devote his life to art.
After leaving Oxford, Morris was briefly articled to G. E. Street, the Gothic Revival architect, but he soon left, having determined to become a painter. His admiration for the Pre-Raphaelites led him to be introduced to Dante Gabriel Rossetti whose influence can be seen on Morris's only surviving painting La Belle Iseult.
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