Designs With History: Introducing The Beauty of Life

Inspired by the life, times and irrepressible quest for beauty of one William Morris, join us as we delve into the history behind a brand-new Morris & Co. design.



William Morris was a vociferous Socialist campaigner. What he termed the ‘Century of Commerce’ led to a degradation of beauty standards in creative traditions. Mass production had alienated the labour force from their art, resulting in a loss of skills, excellence and beauty.  

The Beauty of Life was the title of a lecture delivered to the Birmingham Society of Arts on February 19th 1880. In it, Morris railed against industrialised capitalism as the cause of social inequality. His stormy diatribe concludes on a rallying call, claiming he;

“… must once again call the faithful of art to a battle wider and more distracting than that kindly struggle with nature, to which all true craftsmen are born; which is both the building-up and the wearing-away of their lives.”



Morris’s call to arms is forever immortalised in the same-titled wallpaper and fabric design.

Drawing from another great passion of Morris’s life, private book printing, the script used looks to his own Kelmscott Press for inspiration. The Beauty of Life design was created to feature in the Emery Walker’s House collection, named after Morris’s close friend and fellow book printer, Sir Emery Walker.

Animals and scrolling foliage enchant otherwise grand and sober lettering, reminiscent of the frontispieces of Morris’s own printed books.



Jess, our lead designer here at Morris & Co., says: “Adding brand new designs to the Morris & Co. portfolio is a huge honour and responsibility. We’ve led by putting William Morris’s own personal biography first, reflecting on his immense contributions to the Private Printing movement, as well as that of the Arts & Crafts and his long-standing creative friendship with Sir Emery Walker.

“Creating The Beauty of Life, we’ve utilised motifs recognisable to any Morris & Co. fan: scrolling foliage, chattering birds and beautiful script, all in a fresh, lively colour palette.”


Order your Beauty of Life Sample below.

posted on 07 Feb 2023 in Interiors

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