William Morris

William Morris and the Thames

To what extent is William Morris’ News from Nowhere a late Victorian response to fears surrounding the increase in London’s influence on the upper Thames?


‘The Thames is no ordinary waterway, it is the golden thread of our nation’s history.’

Winston Churchill 1


In modern history, one of the greatest changes in the relationship between London and the upper Thames occurred in the late-Victorian period. Increasingly efficient, fast and cost-effective railways had taken most of the industrial traffic off the upper Thames, making this part of the river both safer and cleaner. In tandem, railway development afforded Londoners the opportunity to travel en masse, primarily in the summer months, to destinations along the upper Thames by this time. From the 1870s onwards, the river above Hammersmith became a space for London leisure and, as the tourist numbers increased over the next 20 years, infrastructure was added to cope, such as extra bridges, new locks and weirs, and more roads and paths. New buildings sprung up, while many older ones were extended and upgraded.2 Hundreds of extra boats, including steam-launches were sold to keep pace with demand of those renting to  tourists or offering pleasure cruises.3 While many welcomed this investment, and the extra income increased tourism represented, others voiced deep misgivings and even outright hostility. One of the most important manifestations of these concerns was the 1890 work News from Nowhere* by William Morris.

*First published in the Socialist League’s newspaper The Commonweal in 1890, before being released in book form a year later.


Space restricts us from making a comprehensive overview of the very considerable historiography surrounding the work. However, it is important to note that it  has captured the imagination of historians and commentators alike since its release. Because of the important role Morris played in early British socialism, many historians, such as E P Thompson, have focussed their attention on the Marxist elements within News from Nowhere. John Payne’s more recent work, Journey up the Thames, uses many of the socialist arguments presented in News from Nowhere to highlight problems on the upper Thames at the close of the 20th Century.

Some historians, like Christine Poulson, have paid close attention to the underlying autobiographical details of News from Nowhere, particularly the views expressed by Morris on marriage and the role of women within his utopian world. Others have focussed instead on the work’s romantic view of nature and the linking of environmental preservation with socialism. Ruth Kinna and Carole Silver’s views are particularly noteworthy in this regard. Patrick Parrinder has explored many of the science fiction elements within the work, something often overlooked by historians, while Jonathan Schneer centres his gaze firmly on the role of the River Thames. He contends that the river is central to the plot of News from Nowhere and its medieval/communistic motifs, writing: ‘It is not accidental that the Thames winds through the book as it does through England’s history and through Morris’ own life and dreams.’4


With Schneer’s assertion very much in mind, this essay will start by briefly charting  some of the reactions to the major changes imposed on the upper Thames from the 1870-1890s and how this influenced many of those writing about the region, including William Morris. We will then chart particular influences on Morris’ life and how these shaped his view of the upper river, and how they then surface in News from Nowhere. It should be stressed that is not within the remit of this essay to undertake an exhaustive analysis of Morris’ views on socialism as expressed in News from Nowhere.

While important, these debates do not deal directly with the Thames – and our focus must remain on the river. That being said, the essay will highlight Morris’ vision of a communist future with a medieval backdrop, and how the amalgamation of the two enabled the people of his utopia to dismantle late Victorian London’s influence on the Thames. This essay will conclude that Morris’ News from Nowhere was an attractive and powerful message with his initial readership: like-minded socialists and those concerned with conservation, often conservatives. It was work that also appealed to a wider audience; after all, Morris was conjuring a vision of a clear, healthy and pastoral upper Thames – a river free from the erosion, pollution and what many believed were the worst elements of late-Victorian life.


Changing currents

By the time News from Nowhere was being published in instalments, the number of tourists visiting the upper Thames region was great enough for Alfred J Church to write in 1890 about ‘a continuous stream’ of traffic on the weekends. ‘On Bank Holidays,’ he added, ‘it may also be said to be a positive torrent’.5 The historian Patricia Burstall writes: ‘Higher upstream the river, having ceased to play its historic role as a great commercial highway, became instead perhaps the chief pleasure resort of southern England.’6 Some writers of period, like Jerome K Jerome, addressed the problems of crowding head-on with wit and humour. Jerome could even detect beauty in the bustle. The narrator of  Three Men in a Boat (1889), J, wrote of watching the traffic at Moulsey Lock. ‘I have stood and watched it sometimes, when you cannot see any water at all, but only a brilliant tangle of bright blazers, and gay caps, and saucy hats, and many-coloured parasols … when looking down into the lock from the quay, you may fancy it was a huge box into which flowers of every hue and shade had been thrown pell-mell.’7


Other authors of the era were keen to stress that  a rural idyll not only remained but was incresingly accessable and a force for good. Writing in 1896, the year of Morris’ death, Joseph Ashby-Sterry’s novel, A Tale of the Thames, was a story of friends and family taking a leisurely downstream journey from Oxford. He wrote: ‘There were dreamy afternoons in punts, and there were delightful lazy mornings paddling in the canoe or running the nose of the aforesaid craft into the rushes in some secluded backwater and dreaming over a volume of some favourite author, and there were moonlight excursions when they were able to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the tender poetry of still summer night.’8


Despite this, the  most common response to change on the upper Thames was one of pessimism. The artist G D Leslie wrote his book Our River (1881) in response to the changing world around him. ‘I should not have undertaken such a work,’ he lamented, ‘had I not been lately much stirred by feelings of melancholy indignation at the many changes I have witnessed taking place on the river banks.’9 He added: ‘No doubt in a few years’ time a picturesque old wooden pier, with its lashers and bucks, will have become a thing of the past. But there are other changes to be noticed… such as the sewage pollution, the steam-launch nuisance, the erection of ugly bridges and vulgar houses.’10 Nine years later, Church  writes: ‘The whole place is changed beyond all remedy… We must satisfy ourselves with the pleasures of memory.’11 It was these pleasurable memories of the Thames that William Morris attempted to not only recapture in News from Nowhere but, within the settings of a socialist future and medieval past, improve upon.


Another group dismayed by the changes taking place along the upper Thames were the owners of riparian properties. They had started to assert privacy and property rights by erecting no-go signs in response to London visitors using their land as impromptu camping sites. There was some sympathy voiced for the property owners’ along the river. Alfred Church calls the riparian landlords ‘much-abused’, adding: ‘They once lived in seclusion, and they now find themselves in the blaze of publicity; they feel as the dweller in some remote farmhouse might be supposed to feel if he found his home suddenly transported to Piccadilly.’12 However, the bulk of visiting Londoners considered the restrictive measures an affront to the English notions surrounding the freedom of the river and greenwood. In Three Men in a Boat, Jerome humorously summed up the mood of many Londoners when confronted with no-entry signs. ‘The sight of those notice-boards rouses every evil instinct in my nature,’ J, comments, adding: ‘I feel I want to tear each one down and hammer it over the head of the man who put it up, until I have killed him, and then I would bury him, and put board up over the grave as a tombstone.’13


The Thames Conservancy, founded in 1857 – and given added responsibility and regulatory powers for the entire river by the Parliament of 1884-85 – attempted to maintain and expand the river’s infrastructure for the good of all. But instead of being able to dedicate itself to this task, it was often preoccupied with attempting to maintain order on the upper river, as the yearly Conservancy reports from the era attest. It was a thankless job,14 and often relied on the riparian property owners acting as the Conservancy’s eyes on the upper Thames. Therefore, we have those repeatedly condemned for destroying the spirit of the Thames becoming key partners with the government agency charged with both protecting and attempting to improve the river for the enjoyment of all, including Londoners with whom the riparian owners were so often at odds. Morris, as we shall see, gave little thought to this.


Key influences

Having charted some of the changes taking place on the upper river and the reactions this invoked in the hearts of late-Victorian writers, let us turn our attention to William Morris and the central influences that shaped his outlook towards the upper Thames. William Morris was born in 1834, the son of a wealthy broker who died in 1847, leaving a considerable inheritance. Morris’ childhood was spent in rustic Walthamstow before Greater London subsumed it. Rural England for young Morris was a realm of medieval fantasy, field and forest – a land of greenwood mystery. Simon Schama has written: ‘The mythic memory of greenwood freedom survived into the 19th century as material for historical novels’.15 In Morris’ case, greenwood freedom provided much of the material for his utopian historical/science-fiction novel.

Morris attended Marlborough public school in Wiltshire; its countryside, filled as it is with pre-Roman burial mounds, barrows and stone circles, fascinated him. ‘Morris spent his adolescence surrounded, as if by a palpable atmosphere, by the sense of the mystery and interest of life of past times,’ wrote E P Thompson.16 Morris went on to study at Oxford University, where he was profoundly influenced by the High Church movement, the works of the Romantic poets, and the pre-Raphaelite art movement led by the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti who went on to become the lover of Morris’ future wife, Jane, from the mid-1860s to the mid-1870s*.

*Rossetti was fast descending into paranoid madness by 1874 and Jane called the affair to a halt.17 Rossetti died a broken husk of a man in 1882.


Morris  sadly accepted his wife’s infidelity. Although the affair was long over by the time of its publication, echoes of the sorrow the author felt at this are readily apparent within the pages of News from Nowhere. While at Oxford, Morris was also heavily influenced by the thoughts of men like Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin. For example, Ruskin believed that Gothic architecture reflected the honesty of men who ‘must break the rock for bread, and cleave the forest for fire, and show, even in what they did for their delight, some of the hard habits of arm and heart that grew on them as they swung the axe or pressed the plough’.18 Ruskin’s Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) and The Stones of Venice (1853) remained dear to Morris even after his political conversion to socialism in later life.19


Morris’ long-term relationship with the Thames began when he and his friend, Edward Burne-Jones, walked its banks in 1853 while  still studying at Oxford. Years later, in 1867, and with Morris now a well-respected poet and designer,* ‘they returned to Oxford and the river for a holiday, accompanied by their families’.20 Four years later, in 1871, Morris rented Kelmscott Manor, located in the village of Kelmscott, which lies past Oxford and towards the very upper reaches of the Thames. The manor was his ‘heaven on earth,’ according to Schneer.21 E P Thompson wrote: ‘Kelmscott Manor aroused in him a sense of history, of mingled labour and repose, and a mellow mood of content.’22 It was on this stretch of the Thames that Morris relaxed, fished and had some of his most peaceful moments of reflection. He affectionately called this part of the river the ‘baby Thames’.23 But Morris was unable to enjoy this paradise in the early 1870s as Rossetti and Jane chose to conduct their affair there. In the summer of 1871, partly out of a desire to conduct research and partly out of a desire to leave his domestic troubles behind, Morris travelled to Iceland.+ He was thrilled to interact with a small, pre-industrial population that remained closely tied to the natural world. Morris returned to Iceland in 1873 for a second journey.

*Along with his friends, Morris had set up a company in the early 1860s to produce objects of the highest quality. However, only the very wealthy or institutions like the Church could afford the goods produced.  Morris was still reliant on the upper classes as his key clientele after his turn to socialism and it was a paradox that he was never able to fully reconcile.

+Norse sagas fascinated him and, polymath that he was, Morris was responsible for a number of translations and Nordic stories.


By the early 1880s, with his design firm achieving great success and with Rossetti out of the picture, Morris organised another Thames holiday. The Morris and Burne-Jones families travelled from Kelmscott House on the Thames at Hammersmith  all the way to Kelmscott Manor.  Morris had become thoroughly disillusioned with the Liberal Party by now and and increasingly aware of the grinding poverty many working-class people faced. He became an ardent socialist after thoroughly reading Karl Marx's oeuvre  in 1883 and helped to establish the Socialist League and then edit its paper The Commonweal. He also gave numerous lectures where he expounded his beliefs. Kinna writes: ‘Morris not only protested against the pollution, congestion, and “squalid industrial waste” produced by “uncontrolled factory production”, he also spoke out against the “rigid organisation of the factory which keeps the operative virtually chained to a single repetitive task”.’24


Morris was also troubled by the rapid expansion of an unplanned and polluting London, which he labelled a destructive force that threatened to consume the surrounding countryside. He wrote: ‘Think of the spreading sore of London swallowing up with its loathsomeness field and wood and heath without mercy and without hope, mocking our feeble efforts to deal with even its minor evils of smoke-laden sky and befouled river’.25 Morris tried his hardest to save what he considered buildings of great historical importance, large or small, from being ‘restored’ or destroyed by the planners. In the late 1870s he had established the Protection of Ancient Buildings, in many ways a precursor to the National Trust.26 Having noted these key events and influences on Morris, and keeping the developments on the upper Thames during the 1870s and 1880s firmly in mind, we can now confidently focus our attention to News from Nowhere and the role of the Thames within it.


Nowhere in particular

The Thames is introduced to the reader almost immediately in News from Nowhere. Morris the narrator details how Morris the protagonist, or ‘Guest’ as he is known in the work, returns to his house in Hammersmith after a meeting of the League.* Before retiring to bed, Guest walks down to the riverbank and, on a cold but crisp winter’s night, he surveys the inky-black Thames. Beautiful, but also  malignant, the scene is marred by an ‘ugly’ suspension bridge+ that blocks Guest’s view of the lights of the city he could once see twinkling downstream.27 Walter Besant’s, The Bell of St. Paul’s (1889), contains a strikingly similar scene of industrial ‘clutter’ imposing itself upon the Thames vista. ‘Where the young man stood, if he looked down the river he could see, close at hand, Southwark Bridge and beyond it the ugly railway bridge running into the ugly railway station: both together shut out the view of all that lay beyond,’ wrote Besant.28  Guest then goes to bed, falling into a deep but fitful slumber before  waking up in the future‡.

*The Socialist League.

+Hammersmith bridge, which had been expanded and upgraded by Bazelgette in1887.29

‡In 2102, although Guest has no idea of the date at this stage.


Getting out of bed, Guest decides to return to the riverside to freshen up and notices that the weather is now summery and sunny. Jumping into a ‘solid looking tub of a boat’,30 he is rowed out into the middle of the Thames by a waterman called Dick. Guest then notices the state of the river. ‘How clear the water is this morning!’ he exclaims. The boatman, nonchalantly replies: ‘Is it? … I didn’t notice.’31 Seemingly overnight, the Surrey bank has become peppered with windlasses for hauling in salmon nets. Dick informs Guest that they are not in constant use; ‘we don’t want salmon every day of the season.’32 In Morris’ socialist ‘future history’,33 the water has returned to its natural state, clear and well stocked with aquatic life.

This scene dovetails with Morris’ view that capitalist industrialism was the prime culprit for pollution within the Thames. He once wrote: ‘It is profit … which turns beautiful rivers into filthy sewers.’34 Guest soon discovers the reason for the river’s dramatic change in fortune: the capitalist industries have been swept aside. ‘The soap-works with their smoke-vomiting chimneys were gone; the engineer’s works were gone; the lead-works gone; and no sound of riveting and hammering came down the west wind from Thorneycroft’s.’*35 The iron bridges have also disappeared, which Guest realises as he gazes on the glorious vision of a fourteenth century-style stone bridge. ‘I had once dreamed of such a bridge,’ he notes, ‘but never seen such an one out of an illuminated manuscript; for not even the Ponte Vecchio at Florence came anywhere near it’.36

Alfred Church, looking back on the 1840s, mused that the Thames at Henley was almost a ‘crystal stream’.37 In News from Nowhere, Morris almost immediately taps into this memory and gives his late-Victorian readership the tantalising vision of the Arcadian Thames flowing through London unsullied: a ‘crystal river’ from source to sea. Parrinder considers these important opening scenes in News from Nowhere to be the inverse image of Dickens’ River Thames, particularly as portrayed in Our Mutual Friend, where the Thames is ‘slimy and oozy’.38 Certainly there is much to be said for this analysis. And when juxtaposed with Dickens’ article Down with the Tide, Morris’ bright and breezy vision of the river works as a powerful antidote to Dickensian Thames, which is more akin to a kind of industrial River Styx. Having finished bathing, Guest and Dick travel into London+ to visit the waterman’s elderly relative, Hammond, who lives in what was once the British Museum.‡ On the way Guest candidly admits ‘I fairly felt as if I were alive in the fourteenth century’,39 while the air, free of industrial soot and toxins, is laden instead with ‘green forest scents’.40

*The ship-building yard established in the 1870s just upstream from Hammersmith in Chiswick by Joseph Isaac Thornecroft. It built small to medium-sized vessels, including torpedo boats, during the time News from Nowhere was being written.

+Now a series of fourteenth century-style villages, nestled in forests and green pastures.

‡Other major landmarks of the 19th Century have gone, although the Houses of Parliament have been converted into a dung market, a role that Morris thought it best suited.41


Morris’ upper Thames

Guest next confers with old Hammond and discovers many details about how the communist epoch arrived and what the mores and morals of the new society now are. Marriage, he discovers, is no longer a matter of a men and women being bound together by the laws of church and property. Partners could enter and then dissolve relationships as and when they liked, although jealousy still created problems of a serious nature. Guest is later told about how an angered husband has murdered the lover of his wife.* Guest, Dick and his ‘wife’ Clara begin their journey on the following day from Hammersmith to join in the haymaking up river at Kelmscott. They make the same journey Morris had made with family and friends in the early 1880s. From the start of the voyage, Guest notes that ‘the banks of the forest that we passed through had lost their gamekeeperish trimness, and were as wild and beautiful as need be.’42

*One wonders at this passage given Jane’s infidelity and the complexity of Morris’ feelings towards Rossetti.

Meanwhile, the large palaces and historic centres of learning along the upper Thames have become communal homes or museums. For example, Windsor Castle has been preserved as a ‘store of antiquities’.43 Guest also makes numerous references to the landscape and the river looking as it had done in his younger days. In one case he comments: ‘I almost felt my youth come back to me, and as if I were on one of those water excursions which I used to enjoy in days when I was too happy to think that there could be much amiss anywhere.’44 Near the close of their voyage, the Thames as a force for rejuvenation becomes stronger. Guest candidly admits: ‘I felt young again, and strange hopes of my youth were mingling with a pleasure of the present.’45


Throughout the voyage, Guest appreciates how those working in the fields appear healthy and strong. He witnesses how the people of Nowhere work hand-in-hand with the outdoor world. For Morris, tilling and working the land was the most fulfilling type of work a man could undertake. With a nod to Ruskin, Morris once wrote: ‘Few men … would not wish to spend part of their lives in the most necessary and pleasantest of all work – cultivating the earth.’46 Later in the novel, Guest remembers how the rural workers of his time appeared degenerate by comparison and he recalls how even the Kelmscott of his age was populated by the misfortunate, including: ‘two or three spindle-legged back-bowed men and haggard, hollow-eyed, ill-favoured women.’47


Riparian property owners have been banished in Nowhere, with  Guest labelling them ‘stockbrokers and other such’. He notes with great satisfaction that their ‘cockney villas’* have been eliminated.48 Later on, Guest is more explicit. He applauds the people of Nowhere who have ‘de-cockneyized the place, and sent the damn flunkies packing.’ He continues: ‘Everybody can live comfortably and happily, and not a few damn thieves only, who were centres of vulgarity and corruption whenever they were, and who, as to this lovely river, destroyed its beauty morally, and had almost destroyed it physically.’49 As human beings have been rejuvenated, so too has the wildlife of the upper Thames: ‘Not only did there seem to be a great many more birds about of the non-predatory kinds, but their enemies, the birds of prey, were also commoner… I concluded from all this that the days of the gamekeeper were over.’50

*The term ‘cockney’ for Morris and other contemporary writers equated to what they saw as the brash, abrasive and even soulless influence of urban Londoners upon the upper Thames. Today, such a notion is hard to define; an awkward combination of today's derogatory term 'chav' and the tabloids' 'white-van man.'


These words would have been music to the ears of Church, whose work decries the destruction of otter habitat on a small wooded island near at Mapledurham Lock in order to increase the fish stock for visiting London anglers. ‘I would gladly see the passing of an Act which would give an absolute protection to what may be still left of the once abundant fauna of the Thames,’ he wrote, adding, ‘the otter first of all, and with him to the kingfisher, the gebe, and the moor-hen, now made the victims of useless massacre, “butchered to make a Cockney’s holiday”.’51 Morris’ views on Thames wildlife and preservation have grabbed the attention of today’s environmentalists, many of whom read the authors words as a prototypical of green politics. Kinna writes: ‘Recently, eco-socialist writers have developed this line of thought and extolled Morris as a pre-cursor of green theory.’52


One of the other key elements to Guest’s voyage up the Thames is the notion of human beauty, both male and female. Men in the world of Nowhere are muscular and toned. They take delight in physical exercise and women take delight in watching them at work. Coming up to Hampton Court, Clara looks at Dick fondly, which provokes Guest to note: ‘I could tell that she was seeing him in her mind’s eye showing his splendid form at its best amidst the rhymed strokes of the scythes’.53 While masculine beauty is closely tied to physical and muscular strength, female beauty is a more romantic and ethereal quality for Morris – one that is closely tied to nature and, indeed, to the Thames. That said, it is often with an earthy and erotic eye that Guest describes the women of Nowhere, as Levine writes: ‘His concern with the beauty of women in Nowhere is not merely romantic self-indulgence, or a weak-kneed Victorian virginolatory.’54


The character Ellen, who we first meet at Runneymede becomes the core focus of this concept. Sun-tanned and noted as wearing somewhat revealing clothes, Dick describes Ellen as the fairy queen of the fairy garden.55 Guest, however, sees her as a new form of female. Rather jarringly, he declares: ‘Other girls … seemed nothing more than specimens of very much improved types which I known in other times. But this girl was not only beautiful with a beauty quite different from that of “a young lady”, but was in all ways so strangely interesting.’56 To an extent, Ellen becomes a mouthpiece for Morris, allowing him, through a female voice, to explicitly connect humanity to nature and to progression. This is most apparent when the party nears Kelmscott, journeying now upon the ‘baby Thames’. Ellen says: ‘I had no idea of the charm of a very small river like this. The smallness of the scale of everything, the short reaches, and speedy change of the banks, give one the feeling of going somewhere.’57


Later Ellen and Guest walk up together to Kelmscott manor. The picturesque house in beautiful surroundings, unchanged from the 19th century, awes Ellen, who sees the building as an extension of the earth that it stands upon. She cries: ‘O me! O me! How I love the earth, and the seasons, and weather, and all things that deal with it, and all that grows out of it – as this has done!’58 The organic and timeless beauty of Kelmscott was the manifestation of all that Morris held dear in terms of architecture, nature and society. That it had been preserved by the people of Nowhere also emphasises to Morris’ readership that countless other Arcadian settings, and not just those on the endangered upper Thames, were in need of saving from the march of late-19th century development.


The happiness for Guest at Kelmscott does not last for long. He soon finds himself returned to the 19th century. During feast in what was the church of Kelmscott he realises the friends with whom he has travelled can no longer see him. Ellen briefly recognises Guest for an instant before she too turns away. Stumbling through the village, attempting to find his refuge, the old manor, Guest’s fears that he has returned to the 19th century are realised when he passes a countryman in rags: ‘his body bent, his calves thin and spindly, his feet dragging and limping.’59 At this moment a black cloud envelopes Guest, who then awakens back in his house in ‘dingy Hammersmith’. His dream – ‘or indeed was it a dream?’60 – now over.



The Thames in News from Nowhere brings forth a blend of Ruskin and Carlyle, rustic historicism, Marxism, and Morris’ own greenwood memory. Indeed its greatest strength as a work peaks when all four factors work in combination – hence the passages relating to the Thames being its most potent. This was no mean feat and it aroused, somewhat ironically, considerable irritation among the ranks of those socialists who looked towards centralism, state intervention and urbanisation as the vehicles for achieving their political aspirations. For example, Engels rather unfairly labelled Morris a ‘settled sentimentalist Socialist’.61 Many of the centralists' arguments and desires were, incidentally, given their own utopian platform shortly before News from Nowhere in the Looking Backward (1889), by Edward Bellamy. It was a work that Morris found strongly objectionable and, perhaps, was a factor that stung him into writing a counter narrative.62


Morris was well aware that utopian narratives were subjective and flawed. He once said: ‘The only safe way of reading a Utopia is to consider it as the expression of the temperament of its author’.63 Yet Morris’ vision of a preserved Thames was not created in a vacuum, as we have seen from the words of those like Church or G D Leslie. As the Thames continued to become increasingly crowded, and cluttered with more riparian properties – their owners adding to the ‘keep off’ signs – Morris’ call for Thames-side preservation and careful restoration was one that found an attentive audience.


Overall, the work acts as something of a warning by Morris to his readership. What remains of the Arcadian upper Thames in 1890 must be preserved until the arrival of a communist/medieval-style epoch that could, in Morris’ mind at least, have the power to halt and then remove all traces of late-Victorian London’s urbanisation and enclosure of the upper Thames. All of this is evident in News from Nowhere, where the upper Thames has become a space of youth, rejuvenation, beauty and rugged health. Alfred Church sadly mused that ‘we [who] have lived in the days of gold [have] fallen upon an iron age.’64 Morris was offering the potent vision of a return to the halcyon days, with the Thames – newly burnished – taking its rightful place once more as the nation’s golden thread.




1) Schneer, Jonathan, The Thames: England’s River (Abacus, 2006) p.4

2) Burstall, Patricia, The Golden Age of the Thames (David & Charles, 1981) p.12-13

3) Ibid

4) Schneer, Jonathan, The Thames: England’s River, p.173

5) Church, Alfred J, Summer Days on the Thames (Seeley & Co., 1890) p.2

6) Burstall, Patricia, The Golden Age of the Thames, p.6

7) Jerome, Jerome K., Three Men in a Boat (Penguin Classics, 2004) p.50

8) Ashby-Sterry, Joseph, A Tale of the Thames (Bliss & Sands, 1896 p.154

9) Burstall, Patricia, The Golden Age of the Thames, p.13

10) Ibid

11) Church, Alfred J, Summer Days on the Thames, p.52

12) Idem, p.2

13) Jerome, Jerome K., Three Men in a Boat, p.59

14) Burstall, Patricia, The Golden Age of the Thames, p.51

15) Schama, Simon, Landscape and Memory (Harper Collins, 1995) p.140

16) Thompson, E P, William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary(Merlin Press, 1976) p.28

17) Coote, Stephen, William Morris: His Life and Work (Alan Sutton, 1996) p.99

18) Ruskin, John, The Nature of Gothic, www.victorianweb.org/authors/ruskin/ruskinov.html (03/07/07)

19) Parrinder, Patrick, ‘News from Nowhere, The Time Machine and the break up of Classical Realism’, Science Fiction Studies, (No.3, Vol.3, Part 3, 1973), hosted by Depauw University, www.depauw.edu/sfs/backissues/10/parrinder10art.htm, pp.1-10

20) Schneer, Jonathan, The Thames: England’s River p.164

21) Idem, 169

22) Thompson, E P, William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary, p.174

23) Schneer, Jonathan, The Thames: England’s River, p.169

24) Kinna, Ruth, William Morris: Art Work, and Leisure, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol.61, No.3 (July 2000), p.494

25) Coote, Stephen, William Morris: His Life and Work, p.146

26) Idem, p.136

27) Morris, William, (Redmond, James, editor) News from Nowhere(Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970) p.2

28) Besant, Walter, London: A pageant of sunset, in Hyatt, Alfred, H. (editor), The Charm of London (Chatto & Windus, 1912) p.218

29) Halliday, Stephen, The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis (Sutton Publishing, 2006) p.173

30) Morris, William, (Redmond, James, editor) News from Nowhere, p.4

31) Ibid

32) Idem, p.5

33) Parrinder, Patrick, ‘News from Nowhere, The Time Machine and the break up of Classical Realism’, p.4

34) Levine, George, From ‘Know-not-Where’ to ‘Nowhere’, in Dyos, H. J. and Wolff, M. (editors), The Victorian City (Routledge, 1999) p.497

35) Morris, William, (Redmond, James, editor) News from Nowhere, p.5-6

36) Idem, p.6

37) Church, Alfred J, Summer Days on the Thames, p.72

38) Parrinder, Patrick, ‘News from Nowhere, The Time Machine and the break up of Classical Realism’, p.4

39) Morris, William, (Redmond, James, editor) News from Nowhere, p.19

40) Idem, p.22

41) Idem, p.26

42) Idem, p.137

43) Idem, p.139

44) Idem, p.124

45) Idem, p.161

46) Kinna, Ruth, William Morris: Art Work and Leisure, p.505

47) Morris, William, (Redmond, James, editor) News from Nowhere, p.173

48) Idem, p.124

49) Idem, p.135

50) Idem, p148

51) Church, Alfred J, Summer Days on the Thames, p.51

52) Kinna, Ruth, William Morris: Art Work, and Leisure, p.494

53) Morris, William, (Redmond, James, editor) News from Nowhere, p.125

54) Levine, George, From ‘Know-not-Where’ to ‘Nowhere’, in Dyos, H. J. and Wolff, M. (editors), The Victorian City, p.515

55) Morris, William, (Redmond James, editor) News from Nowhere, p.133

56) Idem, p.157

57) Idem, p.163

58) Idem, p.174

59) Idem, p.181

60) Idem, p.182

61) Redmond James, Introduction, Morris, William, (Redmond, James, editor) News from Nowhere, p.xi

62) Wilmer, Clive, Introduction in Morris, William, News from Nowhere and Other Writings (Penguin Classics, 1993), p.xxxiv

63) Morris, William cited in Silver, Carole, The Romance of William Morris (Ohio University Press, 1982), p.141

64) Church, Alfred J, Summer Days on the Thames, p.52




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