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11th December 2013

College buys important William Morris book

Thanks to a very generous alumnus Exeter College managed to acquire a book with an important College connection at a recent sale at Bonhams.

Billed as ‘…  from Tolkien’s Library – an Exeter College prize copy linking two of its best-known graduates’, the little book, which bears a gilt stamp of the Exeter College arms on its cover and Tolkien’s signature on the flyleaf, is by William Morris and called ‘Some Hints on Pattern Designing. A Lecture delivered at the Working Men’s College, London, on December 10, 1881.’ It was printed at the Chiswick Press with the Golden Type designed for the Kelmscott Press, for Longmans & Co., 1899.

Tolkien was at Exeter College from 1911 to 1915, changing course from Classics to English Language and Literature. In 1914 he was awarded the Skeat Prize for English and this book may have been given to him as part of that prize.

William Morris was at Exeter College (where he met his fellow Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones) from 1852 to 1855. Tolkien considered much of his literary work to have been inspired by reading Morris.


Book front cover of ‘Some Hints on Pattern Designing' by William Morris with gilt stamp of the Exeter College arms

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