Morris learned from the work of past masters but imitation was never his goal. His calligraphy has a character that is peculiarly his own. Thin, oblique strokes invigorate the script of his Icelandic saga ‘The Story of the Volsungs and the Niblungs’, robed musicians (one coloured, the others still in pencil) fill the margins, and a vivid opening initial shows Sigurd seated on the body of Fafnir. Interlaced initials and swirling floral borders decorate his Odes of Horace. Both manuscripts are, in fact, unfinished, but the process of making them was more important than their completion.


In the hand of William Morris; historiated and other borders, initials, by Morris, Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919) and Sir Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898)

In Latin, on parchment; 194 pages, 168 × 120 mm

Nineteenth-century English binding by the Doves Bindery: green goatskin