Each week during the Summer I'll be taking a topical news item as writing inspiration and going with the flow...
Inspiration: May Morris's diary
The childhood diary of May Morris has been discovered, together with letters she wrote to her mother Jane, in an unlabelled box at The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow.
May was the youngest of two daughter's of William Morris. Her diary throws light onto a privileged and unusual Victorian childhood.
Last year I led creative writing workshops as part of a Heritage Lottery project linking William Morris and Emery Walker. Through the project I learnt about the lives of these men, their families, friends, passions and disputes. They were great friends and lived near to each other overlooking the Thames close to Hammersmith Bridge.
Eight year old May Morris was writing her diary in 1870 - a turbulent time in the marriage of her parents. Her mother Jane was a great beauty and the muse and lover of the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William's friend. Morris knew about the situation but it seemed did nothing to prevent it rather he appeared to facilitate it by removing himself and going on holiday.
In the diary May describes herself as, "very untidy and always very dirty and sometimes I am ashamed to say very naughty." Keeping a diary is a great way to express yourself on the page as May freely did, noting her opinions and feelings. She described returning to London after a holiday away as arriving, "at this most detestable city under the sun."
May went on to develop a career in arts and crafts primarily as an embroiderer and textile artist. She also employed other women in the sewing and production of her designs.
The exhibition May Morris: Art and Life is at the William Morris Gallery from 7 October 2017 - 28 January 2018