William Morris and British Politics: From the Liberal Party to the Socialist League

Authored by: Frank C. Sharp

The Routledge Companion to William Morris

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9780415347433
eBook ISBN: 9781315229416
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315229416-21

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Abstract

Of William Morris’s eighteen years of political activism, seven were spent in promoting the activities of the Liberal Party, a longer period than his association with either the Social Democratic Federation, the Socialist League, or the Hammersmith Socialist Society. Morris came to active political engagement relatively late in his life, but once committed, he at first passionately supported the Liberal party and its goals. although he later became deeply disillusioned with parliamentary politics. Many works on Morris, particularly those with a socialist point of view, have tended to dismiss his engagement with the Liberals as merely a stage on the path to socialism. However, the Liberal Party provided Morris experience working on political campaigns, exposed him to the inner workings of parliamentary politics, and most importantly, gave Morris his earliest public speaking experiences. His work with the Liberals also distinctly colored his approach to public affairs and his political critiques as a socialist. In this essay, I will argue that many of his later concerns as a socialist were continuations of his earlier embrace of Liberal principles, extended and modified by a commitment to basic social reorganization.

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