October 4, 2023


Make Some Fun

William Morris and Youngsters’s Classics

4 min read

Yesterday I completed listening to an audiobook of The  Secret Backyard by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’ve cherished that story since I used to be a woman and it was enjoyable for me to revisit the guide. Whereas I used to be trying up some favourite quotes from the textual content, I got here throughout a Puffin classic collector’s series which contains William Morris designs into the covers of the books. All the covers are designed by Liz Catchpole, who collaborated with the V&A Museum with the intention to select Morris designs from the museum’s assortment. That is the duvet for  The Secret Backyard within the sequence:

Cover of "The Secret Garden," by Frances Hodges Burnett, illustrated by Liz Catchpole

Cowl of “The Secret Backyard,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett, illustrated by Liz Catchpole

The William Morris design chosen for this cowl is “Flower Backyard” from 1879, which is a really acceptable title for a guide a few backyard! Nonetheless, it must be famous the flowers within the Morris design differ from those talked about within the guide. The Secret Backyard guide mentions numerous flowers, together with snowdrops, roses, daffydowndillys (daffodills), crocuses, irises, delphiniums, primroses, poppies, and cherry blossoms. Against this, the “Flower Backyard” design contains stylized flowers that appear to be snakeshead (fritillary) and borage. There doesn’t seem like any ivy, so the quote on the back of the book cover concerning the “swinging curtain of ivy” is much less related to the Morrisian design.

William Morris, "Flower Garden," 1879. Furnishing fabric of Jacquard-woven silk and wool, made at Queen Square Workshop and at Merton Abbey Workshop, England. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Used with permission.

William Morris, “Flower Backyard,” 1879. Furnishing cloth of Jacquard-woven silk and wool, made at Queen Sq. Workshop and at Merton Abbey Workshop, England. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Used with permission.

All this being stated, although, I nonetheless love using the Morris design for this guide cowl. I believe that having the “Flower Garden” sample used as a part of Mary’s costume is intelligent in two methods: 1) it enhances how this design by Morris was used to make Nineteenth-century textiles at Merton Abbey and a pair of) the thriving foliage foreshadows the optimistic progress and inside change that Mary Lennox experiences as she lives as Misselthwaite and cares for the Secret Backyard.

The V&A Retailer explains on their website how every of the books within the collector sequence are held inside the Nationwide Library. These are the opposite books within the sequence, together with the Morris designs chosen:

  • The Wind in the Willows  cover is Morris’s “Willow Bough” design (1887). I believe this selection is so acceptable, particularly as a result of the leaves overlap and curl as if they’re being moved by the wind.
  • The Anne of Green Gables cover is Morris’s “Bird” design (1878). This design jogs my memory a bit of of a quote that Anne says whereas she travels with Matthew to Inexperienced Gables from the practice station: “Should you have been out in an amazing large woods with different timber throughout you and little mosses and June bells rising over your roots and a brook not distant and birds singing in you branches, you may develop, couldn’t you?”1
  • The Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  cover is appropriately adorned with Morris’s “Brother Rabbit” design (1880-1881) to reference the White Rabbit.
  • The Little Women cover is Morris’s “Larkspur” design (1875). I don’t see a transparent connection between the design and Jo on the duvet. However larkspur is talked about within the guide at the beginning of Chapter 10, in an outline of the totally different flowers that the 4 sisters develop of their respective quarters of the backyard plot.
  • The Peter Pan cover is Morris’s “Marigold” design (1875). I don’t see a direct connection to the guide, though the dense foliage might maybe evoke the forest of Neverland.
  • The Jungle Book cover is the “Indian” design (produced 1868-70) utilized by Morris & Co. The V&A web site explains that this design was not made by Morris, however was copied from an 18th-century wallpaper or might have been designed by architect George Gilbert Scott, whose firm Watts & Co. produced some wallpapers. I can see why this cowl was chosen, because the dense and spiky crops evoke a way of a heat local weather and jungle.
  • The Treasure Island cowl design is “Strawberry Thief” (1883). Whereas the birds within the design solely loosely relate to the parrot on Lengthy John’s Silver’s shoulder, I believe that the theme of thievery can function a loosely acceptable parallel between the design and the pirate rogues within the guide.

And in case you might be curious, the William Morris designs are solely on the covers of the books, and never a part of any illustration inside the texts themselves. (One reviewer has wondered if it could be potential for Liz Catchpole might illustrate the photographs inside the textual content too.) I do know Liz Catchpole has accomplished a number of different designs for books that embrace William Morris patterns, together with The Twelve Days of Christmas, William Morris ABC and William Morris 123. If you already know of different youngsters’s books which incorporate William Morris designs, please share!

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