The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

October 2012
8 colour, 24 black and white illustrations
528 pages
24.4x17.2 cm
ISBN: 9781843836766
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC BIO001000, ART015030

The Collected Letters of Jane Morris

Edited by Jan Marsh, Frank C. Sharp

Presents 570 newly discovered letters from Jane Morris to diverse correspondents, which radically revise the popular view of a silent, discontented invalid and instead portray her as an independent thinker following her own causes. The vast majority of the letters are unpublished, and are fully annotated.
Jane Morris [1839-1914] was a famous Pre-Raphaelite model, wife of William Morris and one of the Victorian age's most enigmatic figures.
Her long love affair with Dante Gabriel Rossetti has become the stuff of legend. Later she had a romantic relationship with the adventurer Wilfrid Scawen Blunt. Through her daughter May, she had a contentious interaction with George Bernard Shaw. The greater fame of husband and lovers caused her to be overlooked, but she has always aroused historical interest and partisan debate. Like other women in history her emergence from mute image into speaking subject has come about through feminist scholarship, but is of wide appeal.
The editors of this volume have discovered more than 500 letters from Jane to many and diverse correspondents, which radically revise the popular view of a silent, discontented invalid and reveal the range of her interests and opinions.
The majority of the letters are unpublished and are fully annotated. They reveal Jane's involvement in many of Morris's endeavours such as the family firm Morris & Co., the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the 1882 Icelandic Relief Committee, and the Kelmscott Press, and offer new insights into the life of the Morris family.
An independent thinker, Jane was politically engaged, although voteless, and her letters are informed by the turbulent events of the 1880s. She did not follow Morris into the Socialist movement, but retained Liberal allegiances and became an ardent supporter of Irish Home Rule.
Jane Morris's letters complement those of her husband William Morris [edited by Norman Kelvin] and her lover Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In addition to the texts, the book includes a selection of the portraits and paintings through which Jane became a Pre-Raphaelite icon and archetypal femme fatale.

JAN MARSH is the author of Jane and May Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Painter and Poet and other books on the Pre-Raphaelite circle, and is the current president of the William Morris Society. FRANK C. SHARP is an independent Victorian studies scholar and the author of numerous articles on William Morris and his circle.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Jane Burden Becomes Jane Morris
Letters 1869-1879
Introduction to Part Two: 1880-1889 The Political Years
Letters 1880-1889
Introduction to Part Three: 1890-1896 William Morris's Last Years
Letters 1890-1896
Introduction to Part Four: 1897-1903 The Morris Heritage
Letters 1897-1903
Introduction to Part Five: 1904-1914 The Last Decade
Letters 1904-1913


This fine work offers a wealth of insight into the distinctive world of the Pre-Raphaelites, their clients, their friends, and late Victorian England. Highly recommended. CHOICE

Fundamentally changes our understanding of [Morris]. . The quality of the material in this volume is extremely high and its usefulness outstanding. JOURNAL OF PRE-RAPHAELITE STUDIES

Meticulously researched and written with sympathetic insight, the biographical material add significantly to our knowledge not only of Jane herself but also to our understanding of William Morris's emotional life and, thereby, of his art. JOURNAL OF STAINED GLASS

Brings to life a figure too often dismissed as still, silent and somewhat emotionless.This is a work of meticulous scholarship.The letters are fully annotated and each period of Jane's life is given a lengthy and illuminating introduction. [Jane Morris] emerges from the correspondence as a sympathetic, thoughtful person, with a lively sense of humour, political interests that were distinct from those of her husband, and a discerning approach to literature and art. THE BURLINGTON MAGAZINE

This is a book to be welcomed and enjoyed. The editors and publishers between them have produced one which will give pleasure and instruction to all those interested in that remarkable woman Jane Morris. [.] The editorial work is of the highest quality, the notes to the letters being succinct, accurate and informative. THE JOURNAL OF WILLIAM MORRIS STUDIES
The letters are rich with her intelligence and observations on her social circle. APOLLO
[A] widely researched and impeccably edited collection. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

Related Titles