William Morris – melon fabric

Let me give you a place to sit and something to think about. A Morris recliner by Stickley, a melon fabric.

  Sitting in the Stickley Morris recliner

 Memory is a series of life’s moments recalled when needed.

Last year at Oxford, last summer at Water House, Walthamstow, northeast London, a square, heavy Georgian building of yellow brick, the Morris family home from 1848 to 1856. In 1856, William Morris, twenty two and a student at Oxford, writing as a character named John, in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine:

John took up a garden fork preparatory to running down to the melon ground where the worm-populated dung heaps were; for some strange reason that moment and the half hour were one of the unforgotten times of his life; and in after days he could never smell the mixed smell of the toolhouse, with its bast mats, earthy roots and herbs, in a hot summer evening, without that evening with every word and gesture coming clear to his memory.

William Morris melon fabric

Strange, is it not, that inspiration can come from a dung heap, a melon, and a summer long ago? This first day of May, I have just planted my cantaloupe seeds out behind the store in bed recovered from the compost of last year.


Let me give you as an added bonus, two poems by William Morris:

I am the ancient apple-queen,

As once I was so am I now.
For evermore a hope unseen,
Betwixt the blossom and the bough.

Ah, where’s the river’s hidden Gold!
And where the windy grave of Troy?
Yet come I as I came of old,
From out the heart of Summer’s joy.


I am the handmaid of the earth,

I [em]broider fair her glorious gown,
And deck her on her days of mirth
With many a garland of renown.

And while Earth’s little ones are fain
And play about the Mother’s hem,
I scatter every gift I gain
From sun and wind to gladden them.

Wasted Time

Do not think it wasted time to submit yourself to any influence that will bring upon you any noble feeling. — John James Ruskin

Fields of red and gold
Fields of red and gold

John Ruskin (February 8, 1819 – January 20, 1900) was the leading English art critic of Victorian England, also an art patron, painter, writer, philosopher and philanthropist, and finally social thinker.

In 1884, he gave a series of two lectures to the London Institution entitled, The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth-Century, an anecdotal account of the effects of industrialization on weather. In forty years of observation, from 1831 to 1871, Ruskin concluded, storm clouds were gradually gathering and staying over the skies of Europe.

In those old days, when weather was fine, it was luxuriously fine; when it was bad—it was often abominably bad, but it had its fit of temper and was done with it—it didn’t sulk for three months without letting you see the sun,—nor send you one cyclone inside out, every Saturday afternoon, and another outside in, every Monday morning.

In everything that Ruskin did and wrote about, he emphasized the relationship between nature, art, and society. Family remained for him the core unit around which society is developed.

John Ruskin was a contemporary of Scottish-American naturalist and environmentalist, John Muir. Ruskin’s writings and works influenced both William Morris and Gustav Stickley, and the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early twentieth century.