chapter  5
George Wardle’s ‘Memorials of William Morris’
WithCharles Harvey, Jon Press
Pages 33

In 1897, when J. W. Mackail was researching his two-volume Life of William Morris, he asked George Wardle to set down his recollections of Morris and the firm. Wardle, who had worked with Morris for 25 years until his retirement in 1890, responded promptly, sending Mackail 30 pages of manuscript. While Mackail’s research notebooks were later presented by his wife Margaret to the William Morris Gallery at Walthamstow, the ‘Memorials’ came into the possession of May Morris, and formed part of the collection of family papers at Kelmscott Manor. After her death in 1938, they were presented to the British Library by her literary executor, Dr Robert Steele. 1 Though they were quoted at length by Mackail, and have frequently been used by more recent biographers, they have not been readily accessible to all those interested in the life and work of William Morris. 2 The ‘Memorials’ are one of the most significant items in the Morris Papers for the study of Morris & Co. and William Morris as businessman. They contain fascinating insights into Morris’s work practices and the operation of the firm. We believe that they merit a wide readership.