William Morris was an artist and academic who lived and worked in the mid-late 19th Century. He was a philologist and translator, concerned mostly (though not entirely) with ancient Germanic sagas. He also wrote poetry, illuminated and bound books, was part of the Pre-Raphaelite movement (of whom I am inordinately fond) and wrote the odd bit of fantasy. He pushed hard to beautify and improve book printing and binding techniques. Where does this intersect with gaming?
His linguistic works were an influence on many scholars of the early and middle 20th century – scholars like JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. His fantasy works also influenced bloody Dunsany, and Wagner, and Tolkien, and Lewis… Indeed, they were so influential Tolkien called them the “foundation of his work”. By that he meant all his work, academic and creative. JRRT’s first work was a pastiche of one of Morris’ translations written in the style of House of the Wulflings. He even lifted characters and names from Morris for Lord of the Rings (remember, works actually went into the public domain for the first half of the 20th century..) and arguably improved both the characters themselves and the quality of his own work.
Morris’ interests jive well with my own (substitute “anime, weaponry, and martial arts ” for “socialism” and you’ve pretty much got the list). His works are showing me connections unthought-of between all manner of topics, and between stories I never thought were related. Plus I’m getting helpful tips on book-binding :b
Since his work is in the public domain, I’ve taken the liberty of hunting up the best scans of some of his many works; I encourage you to delve into the writings of one of the foundations of modern fantasy, and into the sagas and legends that have provided me and countless others with inspiration.
The Story of Grettir the Strong,
The Doom of King Acresius,
The Story of Sigurd the Volsung, and the Fall of the Neibelungen,
The Sundering Flood,
The Roots of the Mountains, (and the 1879 version – much prettier, but some scan issues)
The Well at the World’s End
The First Adam and the Last Adam, (poetry)
The House of the Wolflings 1890 edition, and also the 1892 edition
Text (No PDF available)
The Hollow Land,