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The Last Romances of William Morris


Phillippa Bennett

William Morris’s last romances are strikingly original stories written in his final years, but they remain relatively neglected in both Morris studies and nineteenth-century literary studies. This book provides a full-length critical account of these works and their essential role in promoting the continuing importance of Morris’s ideas.
Approaching these romances through the concept of wonder, this book provides a new way of understanding their relevance to his writings on art and architecture, nature and the environment, and politics and Socialism. It establishes the integral connection between the romances and Morris’s diverse cultural, social and political interests and activities, suggesting ways in which we might understand these tales as a culmination of Morris’s thought and practice. Through a comprehensive analysis of these remarkable narratives, this book makes a significant contribution to both work on William Morris and to nineteenth-century studies more generally.
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I would like to thank everyone whose support and friendship have, in different ways, contributed to the development of this book over several years. Particular thanks go to Nicola Bown, who saw and commented on this work in its earliest stages, and to Tony Pinkney and the late Sally Ledger, who encouraged me on the next step towards publication. I am grateful to the community of Morris scholars for their wisdom and generosity, and to the William Morris Society for awarding me the Peter Floud Memorial Prize which assisted with the first stages of my research.

I owe much to the love and support of my mum and my sister, and to the continuing inspiration of my dad, Peter, who understood the importance of wondering. Sam and Bella have brought love and joy to the work. Finally, special thanks to Charles, who has listened to me talk about Morris for many years and who has always believed in this book.

Sections of earlier versions of this work have appeared in: The Journal of William Morris Studies; Æ: Canadian Aesthetics Journal; Spaces of Utopia: Utopian Studies Journal; William Morris in the Twenty-First Century, ed. by Phillippa Bennett and Rosie Miles (Peter Lang, 2010); To Build a Shadowy Isle of Bliss: William Morris’s Radicalism and the Embodiment of Dreams, ed. by Michelle Weinroth and Paul Leduc Browne (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015), and delivered as the 2006 Kelmscott Lecture for the William Morris Society.← xi | xii →

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