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Miss Emma Hardy

Profile summary

Professional biography

I am an art and design historian and curator, with particular interests in nineteenth-century British art, design and domestic material culture. I have a first degree in the history of the fine and decorative arts from the University of Leeds and an MA in history of design from the Royal College of Art/Victoria and Albert Museum. I am co-author, with Ingrid Roscoe and Greg Sullivan, of A biographical dictionary of sculptors in Britain 1660-1851 (Yale University Press, 2009). I have worked in curatorial roles at the V&A and The Geffrye Museum of the Home.

Research interests

My PhD research is focused on the wallpapers produced by Morris & Co between 1864 and 1928.

Morris & Co produced more than 100 wallpaper patterns, of which more than 50 were designed by William Morris himself. The printing was contracted out to Jeffrey & Co, an established manufacturer of high-quality, block-printed wallpapers, and this collaboration between the two firms continued into the twentieth century.

My research will consider how far the business of wallpaper production fitted with Morris’s utopian ideals of craft production. It will investigate the relationship between Morris and Jeffrey & Co, focusing on how the design process worked within their collaboration. It will look at how the wallpapers were marketed and who the consumers of Morris wallpapers were, considering whether the market was limited to an elite, artistic circle or whether the wallpapers played a role in bringing Morris’s design and ideas to a wider audience. A key source will be a set of logbooks which document all of the Morris papers and colourways, now in the design archives of the home furnishings company Sanderson.

The project is a partnership between the Open University and the Sanderson Archive, funded by an AHRC Collaborative Doctorial Award, through the Open-Oxford-Cambridge Doctoral Training Partnership.