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Hornbake Library Exhibition Features Rare William Morris Books and Designs

Posted: Aug 03, 2012

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The 19th-century author and designer  William Morris is featured in an exhibition at the Hornbake Library at the University of Maryland.

The exhibition, How We Might Live: The Vision of William Morris, opens on September 4, 2012, and runs through July 2013.  

Morris (1834 – 1896) was a British poet, designer, artist-craftsman, typographer, preservationist, early environmentalist, socialist and business owner.                             

Photograph, William Morris

Although many people know Morris for his textile and wallpaper designs, a goal of the exhibition, says curator Ann Hudak, is to show this immense range of Morris’s interests. “Morris is credited as one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement,” Hudak says.  “But he was also an author and a translator, a designer and a printer. He is such an inspiring figure, and his works and thoughts resonate today as they did more than a century ago.”

The exhibition examines Morris’s life and vision, focusing on his written works, political activism and artistic endeavors. “He died doing the work of ten men,” his doctor said of him.

 In 1891, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press and revived the art of hand printing as a reaction to the industrialism of the 19th century.  Its books, many with intricate illustrations, feature Morris’s own designs for type and ornamental letters.

The William Morris Collection is one of the treasures of Special Collections in Hornbake Library. Of the 53 works printed at the Kelmscott Press between 1891 and 1898, the University of Maryland owns 34.

The exhibition features a rare copy of works by Geoffrey Chaucer printed by the Kelmscott Press in 1896. Known as the Kelmscott Chaucer, the book is a masterpiece of hand printing and widely considered to be one of the finest books ever printed. It was acquired by the university in 2010 and has not been previously exhibited at the university.

How We Might Live: The Vision of William Morris” is on display in the Maryland Room Gallery of the R. Lee Hornbake Library on the University of Maryland, College Park, campus through July 2013. 

Free and open to the public during the Maryland Room’s open hours (Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. – 8pm, Sunday 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.).

For additional exhibit information and a link to a forthcoming digital version, go to:

The University of Maryland Libraries comprise the largest academic library system in the Washington D.C.-Baltimore area. The eight-library system supports the teaching, learning and research needs of University of Maryland students and faculty.