John Henry Dearle: A Life at Morris & Co.

Fiona Rose

John Henry Dearle began his long employment with Morris & Co working as a teenager in the firm's Oxford Street shop. William Morris took him under his wing and trained him to work firstly in the stain glass studio in Queens Square and then as his tapestry assistant. By the early 1880s, Dearle was responsible for training tapestry assistants for the firm. His natural aptitude for design then lead him to becoming, alongside May Morris, the key designer for embroidery patterns at Morris & Co.

After the death of William Morris, Dearle became Art Director of Morris & Co. The 30 repeat patterns he created were greatly influenced by his former employer and included the famous Golden Lily, Compton, Sweet Briar, Daffodil and Iris. According to Sanderson, who now own Morris & Co., Golden Lily is the firm's second most popular design after Willow Bough.

Dearle was devoted to his mentor and friend, William Morris, recalling after the great man's death, "his impetuous and curious" nature, "his kind eyes", that he was "generous minded to a fault and respected by all who worked for him". Also, that it was a "privilege to have experienced his friendship".

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