William Morris

From Tolkien Gateway
William Morris.jpg
William Morris
Biographical information
Born24 March 1834
Died3 October 1896

William Morris was an English artist and author, who wrote and published poetry, fiction, and translations of ancient and medieval texts throughout his life. J.R.R. Tolkien was influenced by both the artistic and literary work of Morris.

Literary influence[edit | edit source]

Literary works by Morris, which Tolkien explicitly stated to have had an impact on his writing, are his translation of the Völsunga Saga,[1], and his novels The House of the Wolfings and The Roots of the Mountains. Tolkien also said in an early letter to Edith that he tried to use some of Morris's literary techniques when writing "The Story of Kullervo".[2][3]

Furthermore, scholars have deduced possible implicit influences from these and several others of Morris's works: The Earthly Paradise (for The Book of Lost Tales),[1] The Roots of the Mountains (for Gollum),[4] The Wood beyond the World (for Lothlórien and Fangorn),[4] and his translation of The Saga of Gunnlaug the Worm-tongue (for Gríma Wormtongue).[5]

Artistic influence[edit | edit source]

In several illustrations, Tolkien was clearly inspired by the decorative style found in the Arts and Crafts Movement (of which Morris was the central figure and one of the founders) and the related Art Nouveau. The design philosophy of Morris was to re-introduce traditional craftsmanship by using simple forms and patterns and often medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration (in reaction to early to the early modern industrial design), a theme which can be seen in some of Tolkien's illustrations from the late 1920s (see, e.g., 'Tol Sirion'), some of his paintings for The Hobbit, the ornamental patterns drawn in later years,[6][1] and his hand-drawn maps of Middle-earth.[7] It is known that Tolkien owned a copy of Morris' lecture Some Hints on Pattern Designing (1899).[8]

Bibliography, selected[edit | edit source]

Fiction[edit | edit source]

Translations[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]