18 February 2011

Death of Joan South, Long-time Morris Society Member

Marilyn Ibach, a member of the William Morris Society in the United States, writes—

Joan South, who was active for so many years as Trustee of the William Morris Society in the UK, and who remained a great mentor to me long after I left my job at the William Morris Centre in 1978, passed away peacefully at home with her three children Imogen, William, and Julia at her side, on February 6, 2011, aged 86, after some months in a nursing home in Kent.

Joan became a member of the William Morris Society in 1970, and by the time I was living at Kelmscott House in 1977, she was a Committee member.  She regularly dropped by Tuesdays on her way to market in Hammersmith to see how I was going on. Having moved to London from Australia in 1959, Joan was sympathetic to a new arrival, and  regularly invited me to her home, including for a wonderful Christmas dinner.

Her interest in William Morris was the main reason that we met, and of course we could talk about that for hours.  But it was her nurturing, bright nature that drew me, and I am sure, many others.  Florence Boos, when learning of her death, called Joan South a woman of great intelligence and broad culture.
In the late 1990s, Joan became the Honorary Secretary of the William Morris Society. She also was active in another cause, the Leasehold Enfranchisement Association, when her lease at Upper Phillimore Gardens was threatened with closure. She wrote the book Leasehold: the Case for Reform, in 1994.

I last saw Joan in September 2009, and she was as interested and involved in family, friends, and life as always.   I will miss her.

12 February 2011

Caroline Arscott Lecture at UPenn on 14 February

From the UPenn / Penn Visual Studies School of Arts and Sciences webpage:

Caroline Arscott, Head of Research, Courtauld Institute of Art
With a brief response by Jeremy Melius, Dept. of Art and Archaeology,
Princeton University

"William Morris's Woodpecker Tapestry: Evolution and Utopia"

"This lecture draws on Herbert Spencer’s account of the emergence of psychological life (from physiological existence) in his account of evolution, and on Charles Darwin’s account of sexual selection in relation to evolution to investigate the temporality of the Woodpecker tapestry made by William Morris in 1885. The tapestry relates to the tale from Ovid in which Picus is transformed into a woodpecker. Arscott will focus on the theme of transformation and raise questions about the temporality implied by the motif and by the verses added to the tapestry by Morris. A particular relationship between the present and the future is posited. Arscott argues that this has a bearing on the way that Morris’s tapestry offers a meditation on its own making."

Caroline Arscott is the author of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones: Interlacings (2008).
Monday, 14 February 2011
5 p.m.
Cohen Hall 402
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA
Free and open to the public. Reception to follow

11 February 2011

A Cure for the Winter Doldrums... Books by and about William Morris

Is this interminable winter getting to you? Are you looking for a great new book to sink your teeth into? Check out the full list of titles that are currently available for sale from the William Morris Society in the United States through the following URL:


Life member Gary L. Aho, professor emeritus of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, generously gave us a portion of his library, with the wish that the books be sold to benefit the Society. The books are offered through the Kelmscott Bookshop, 34 West 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, (410) 235-6810, info@kelmscottbookshop.com.

To order contact the bookshop directly and cite the author, title, and inventory number. You will be informed of availability and told the cost of ship- ping. Payment may then be made via check or credit card. Please do not send orders or payment to the William Morris Society.

08 February 2011

Happy Birthday Ruskin!

On this day, February 8, in the year 1819, John Ruskin - art and architecture critic and social commentator - was born in London.