A utopian romance is an apt description for News from Nowhere. The novel combines a description of life in Nowhere—an ideal England at some future time—with some of the conventions of a medieval romance.
News from Nowhere can be considered an appropriate summation of William Morris’s gifts and preoccupations. He was a prolific writer in Victorian England, whose verses, epics, and romances show the influence of medieval literature. He united his literary and design interests when he established Kelmscott Press with the goal of producing well-designed books. He was a staunch advocate of architectural preservation and opposed romantic restoration. Most of his income came from a design firm that produced stained glass, architectural ornaments, furniture, and textiles. Finally, he was a socialist and became actively involved in politics during the later years of his life.
The common thread that joined Morris’s diverse activities was his idealism. He believed in good design principles, which he thought were being undermined by mass production and the use of machines. His socialist political views protested the degrading working conditions brought by industrialization. He believed in the personal integrity and fulfillment of good craftsmanship. What attracted him to the Middle Ages was his perception that his aesthetic, individual, and communal ideals were embodied in that culture. Morris expressed his convictions in all of the many forms in which he worked.
In News from Nowhere, the narrator, who receives the name of Guest, is a thinly disguised self-portrait. When the narrator is asked his name at breakfast at the Guest...
(The entire section is 690 words.)