Books: Victorian Renaissance Man

WILLIAM MORRIS by E.P. THOMPSON 829 pages. Pantheon. $17.95.

Of all the Victorians, William Morris perhaps came closest to filling the outline of that egregious myth, the Renaissance Man. Only his socialist convictions made him turn down the post of Poet Laureate after Tennyson died. He translated the Icelandic sagas into English, wrote News from Nowhere, one of the best Utopian novels in the history of that genre, and was a charter member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. With John Ruskin, he was an influential agitator for maintaining the integrity of the architectural past; dozens...

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