chapter  8
William Morris and the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction 1
WithCharles Harvey, Jon Press
Pages 19

By the early 1880s, William Morris was a well-known and much respected figure. Morris & Co. had entered its heyday, and Morris’s public lectures ensured that his social criticism and views on design reached an ever-widening audience. One mark of his growing reputation was the development of a close and rewarding association with the South Kensington Museum, as the Victoria and Albert was known until the last year of the nineteenth century. The Museum had been set up with the proceeds of the 1851 Great Exhibition ‘for the express purpose of allying art and industry and improving design in manufactured goods’. 2 Morris’s relationship with the Museum dated from 1864 when the recently founded Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. contributed panels to an exhibition of contemporary stained glass. Three years later, Henry Cole, South Kensington’s first Director, and Francis Fowke, the architect of the museum buildings, commissioned the firm to decorate the Green Dining Room – one of its first major secular commissions.