Top critical review
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Mountains of research
on 30 January 2012
I really admired the amount of work that had obviously gone into this biography. I really enjoyed the chapters on Morris's early life, but there was almost too much detail in some areas. I wanted to know more about his family, the lives of his brothers and sisters and his relationship with his mother, but I skipped over some of the details of his travels. I think that this is probably due to my own personal interests I like to hear more about people than places.
His socialist activities have been neglected by other biographers and it was interesting to read more about them, but for me there was more than I needed to hear about his politics. I always get cross when biographers wonder about something and then admit that there is no evidence one way or the other. There isn't much of that in this book, but it does creep in especially when the author speculates about Morris's marital relations, his attitude to his impending marriage and his honeymoon. The worst example I felt was when the author talks about a women quite unrelated to the story in hand, Molly the grandaughter of one of Morris's clients who apparently talks in her diary about "nights of wonderful love" and then refers to Morris's wife Janey: "Wonderful for Molly. But how had it been for Janey? It is impossible to say."(p188) If it is impossible to say why say anything? If need be why not say what the speculation of their contemporaries and later writers was and leave it at that?
All in all I found this well written, very well researched, but a bit heavy going.