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IDLE IDOL WILLIAM MORRIS 0 John Mitchinson on the visionary work and revolutionary life of the pot-bellied polymath WILLIAM MORRIS hardly seems a promising candidate as an inspiration to idlers. “What, the flowery wallpaper chappy?” I hear you say. The very same, the man whose
designs have spawned a thousand tea cosies, spectacle cases, napkins and even — God help us — handy TV remote controller holders, that hang from the arm of your DFS sofa. This squib is an attempt to rescue him from your mum’s wretched Past Times catalogue and restore him as one of the greatest of English visionaries. ¶In a life of only sixty-two years he managed to be poet, painter, engraver, weaver, dyer, designer, printer, retailer and revolutionary, sometimes all at once. Far from being a loafer, Morris was a 19th century potbellied furnace of activity, and might well have claimed to be one of the busiest people in a century not otherwise noted for its sluggardliness. When he died in 1896 his physician attributed his demise to “his simply being William Morris, and having done more work than most