University Events

Archive Items

Art for the people: William Morris and his legacy (Charlton Memorial Lecture)

Fiona MacCarthy, biographer and cultural historian

Date/Time: 23rd April 2015

Fiona MacCarthy is William Morris’s biographer and curator of the recent major exhibition Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris and his Legacy at the National Portrait Gallery. Her talk focuses on Morris the visionary thinker and his democratic concept of ‘art for the people’.

Morris believed that creativity was everybody’s birth right and this lecture traces William Morris’s influence through the Arts and Crafts and Garden Cities movements to the Festival of Britain of 1951. During this time so many of his views were absorbed into the mainstream of political thinking by Attlee’s post-war Labour Government.

Speaker biography

Fiona MacCarthy is a well-known cultural historian and arts commentator who first came to fame when her controversial biography of Eric Gill was published in 1989. Since then she has written lives of William Morris (winner of the Wolfson History Prize and Writers’ Guild Non-fiction Award), Lord Byron and – most recently – Edward Burne-Jones (winner of the James Tait Black Prize for Biography). She is now writing a life of Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus.

Fiona was married to the distinguished designer David Mellor who died in 2009. She lives and works in Derbyshire.