|Our lemon drizzle birthday cake for Morris.|
Today I thought I'd write about what Morris did on his 44th birthday, 134 years ago. That year, he spent his birthday at “The Grange”, home to his friends Edward and Georgiana Burne-Jones. Although it was March, it still felt like winter and snow came “with a sudden & mighty squall” at about 3PM.
His wife and teenage daughters were away in Italy, so they sent him notes and gifts through the mail. His daughter May, barely sixteen, sent him a stylish tobacco pouch. He wrote thanking her: “the shape ... is very pretty & the colour: only I ask you to put silk strings to it as cotton on cotton sets my teeth on edge: of course 'tis indigo.” It could be tough having a designer for a father.
The next night, he had a belated birthday dinner at his mother's house with his mother and his unmarried sister, Henrietta. He stayed overnight, and in the morning a servant gave him a haircut in front of his mother, sister, and a resident parrot. Apparently, the parrot “was delighted” by these proceedings, drowning out their conversation as he “mewed & barked & swore & sang at the top of his vulgar voice.”
It was a very good birthday indeed.
All quotes from Norman Kelvin's The Collected Letters of William Morris, Volume I.