May Morris (1862-1938), the younger of William Morris's two daughters, was born at Red House, Bexleyheath on the 25th March, 1862. May was a very talented crafts person and designer in her own right. She excelled in the field of embroidery and was Head of Embroidery at Morris & Co. by the time she was twenty three. May also designed and made jewellery and was a talented amateur watercolour artist.
May was a committed socialist and was instrumental in founding the Women’s Guild of Arts in 1907. This organisation was formed to support women working in the arts and crafts field, at a time when they were excluded from other similar organisations (such as the Art Workers’ Guild, which did not admit women until 1972). May was also a skilled editor, spending her later years editing the 24 volumes of her father's collected works.
Despite all these achievements, her significance for the Arts and Crafts Movement was largely forgotten until the end of the twentieth century when a renewed interest in craft and the heritage of the Movement re-established her place as one of its most influential designer craftswomen. A landmark exhibition about May's life and works at the William Morris Gallery, at the end of 2017/beginning 2018, did much to redress the balance.
May's quote about herself - “I’m a remarkable woman, always was, though none of you seemed to think so" - was written in a letter to her former lover George Bernard Shaw a few years before her death. Fortunately today May's remarkable abilities are becoming increasingly more well known and appreciated.