Morris, May (1862-1938)

May Morris, 1862-1938. May Morris, 1862-1938.

May Morris was the younger daughter of the artist and designer, William Morris and his wife, Jane Morris (née Burden). She was an artist, jewellery maker, writer and editor as well as an embroidery designer. May Morris was involved in her father’s work, notably for the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Art Needlework movement.

In 1881 she enrolled in the National Art Training School (London; the precursor of the Royal College of Art), where she followed courses in embroidery. In 1885, at the age of 23, she became the director of the embroidery department at her father’s company, Morris & Co. 

The Art Needlework movement was dedicated to replacing Berlin wool work and related techniques from the embroidery repertoire of England and elsewhere. May Morris was also active in the later development of the Royal School of Art Needlework, which had been established in 1872. The aim of the school was to develop and train students in the art of needlework through the use of an apprenticeship system. She remained involved with the Royal School until well into the twentieth century.

In 1893 she published Decorative Needlework (Joseph Hughes & Co., London), which looks (briefly) at the history of embroidery, the main stitches and techniques (appliqué, patchwork, etc.), ways of setting up a tensioning frame, as well as looking at elements of design, such as the use of individual motifs and repetitions, lines, curves and colours in order to create ‘good’ embroidery designs. This book became very popular, especially among those working in the art needlework style.


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 18 June 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 30 January 2017 12:33