Death the Avenger, and Death the Friend

William Morris

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Prose essay


◦ Hunt, Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

◦ Mackail, J. W. Life of William Morris .

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


In this brief essay, William Morris describes two engravings by Alfred Rethel. Morris is well-known for his aversion to writing criticism, and this essay is remarkably free from judgment. His descriptions are poetic — the patterns of the hangings in the gallery “crawl like evil poisonous spiders” (477) — but he abstains from giving his own reflections. The descriptions, it seems, are praise enough.

Rethel was known by at least some of the PRBs. Holman Hunt thought his style “too subservient to that of Albert Dürer” (Hunt 76). Morris himself was a fan of Dürer. In the same month this essay was published, Burne-Jones, then living with Morris, wrote in a letter “Topsy and I live together . . . in the quaintest room in al London, hung with brasses of old knights and drawings of Albert Dürer” (Mackail 108).

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine , August, 1856.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: Morris011.raw.xml