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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

Reading Experience Database UK Historical image of readers

Listings for Author:  

J. W. Mackail


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J. W. Mackail : The Life of William Morris

Henry James to Charles Eliot Norton, 28 November 1899 (in letter begun 24 November 1899): 'I gather [...] that you have read Mackail's Morris [...] I felt much moved, after reading the book, to try to write [...] something positively vivid about it; but we are in a moment of such excruciating vulgarity that nothing worth doing about anything or anyone seems to be wanted or welcomed anywhere.'

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Henry James      Print: Book


J. W. Mackail : The Life of William Morris

Meeting held at 9 Denmark Road, 20 IV. 1934

F. E. Pollard in the chair

1. Minutes of last read & approved with one correction, in the absence of the secretary.


4. Howard R. Smith told us of Morrisís life. The meeting gasped with unanimity and amazement to learn that he (Morris i.e.) had read all the Waverley novels by the age of seven; we gathered that the background of his life had been a blend of Epping Forest & shares in a coppermine, and that his appearance accounted for his lifelong nickname of Topsy. Of his friendships, his labours to restore beauty to Victorian homes, to prevent vandals from restoring cathedrals & other ancient monuments, his Kelmscott Press, his poems & prose romances, his turning to Socialism as the only way to a society in which men would find happiness in sound and beautiful work Ė of all these things and many more which made up his extraordinarily full and fruitful life, it is impossible to make a summary.

5. Mary S. W. Pollard read a short extract from Percy Corderís life of Robert Spence Watson telling of a visit of Wm Morris to Bensham Grove. Members afterwards inspected his signature in the Visitorsí book.

6. Ethel C. Stevens read an interesting account of Kelmscott Manor, revealing other sides of this vigorous and many sided personality.

7. R. H. Robson gathered together the artistic & socialist aspects of Morrisís work, emphasised the greatness of the man, & read extracts from MacKailís Biography. It was clear that Morris would wish to cancel out the last four hundred years & start again on different lines. Time was wanting to reveal all the varieties of opinion that this might have elicited, & we parted in united awe at the mans capacity for work, & his important contributions to our life & ideals.

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Reginald H. Robson      Print: Book


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