William Morris’s Romantic Revolutionary Ideal

William Morris’s Romantic Revolutionary Ideal: Nature, Labour and Gender in News from Nowhere,” Journal of William Morris Studies, Special Issue: Morris and Revolution, Vol. XXII No. 2 (2017). [PDF]

William Morris’s celebrated utopian romance News from Nowhere or An Epoch of Rest (1890) constituted his most singular attempt to present a revolutionary ideal aimed at inspiring a “movement towards Socialism” in his day. Centering on the overcoming of human alienation in relation to the three primary forms of the division of labour—social production, town and country and gender relations—it provided a holistic, ecological outlook extending far beyond most nineteenth-century socialist views. Although News from Nowhere was subtitled Being Some Chapters from a Utopian Romance, it followed a pattern that left it free from the criticisms that Marxian thinkers, including Morris himself, had levelled at utopian socialism, since its role was didactic rather than prophetic. The object was not to forecast the victory of socialism as a superior way of organising the mechanism of production, but rather one of radically refashioning the movement toward socialism in the present by widening the whole conception of the revolutionary project, building on the romantic tradition.


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