Talwin Morris exhibition

Talwin Morris Bird MotifThis exhibition showcased some fine examples of Art Nouveau book cover design by the graphic artist, Talwin Morris (1865-1911).

The graphic artist Talwin Morris (1865-1911) was a member of the circle of artists surrounding the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow. Through his book designs, Morris was able to introduce a wide audience to what was known as the 'Glasgow Style' as it flourished at the end of the nineteenth century.

Morris was born in Winchester, and began his career in the office of his uncle, the Reading-based architect Joseph Morris. In the five years that he spent in Reading, from 1880 to 1885, during which the office was active in church restoration, Morris developed an interest in furniture and interior design. In 1893, he became the Art Manager at the distinguished Glasgow publisher, Blackie & Son, who produced a wide range of children's books and educational titles. Through his work and influence in this role, Morris was able to help to raise the standard of popular book design.

Talwin Morris cover for Two gentlemen of VeronaIn 1898, the directors of Blackie created an independent subsidiary called the Gresham Publishing Company, which published scholarly works of reference, or literature, which were available by subscription. The larger format of these books offered Morris a bigger canvas for his designs, and the Gresham book covers represent some of this finest work.

The 'Glasgow Style' was influenced by a diverse range of art movements and styles, including Japanese interior design, Celtic imagery, Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement. There was no shared intellectual philosophy amongst its creators, although they were all connected with or were students at the Glasgow School of Art. They also favoured a design vocabulary which included motifs such as stylized roses, sinuous curves and geometric abstraction. Morris's book designs incorporate all these motifs, with a particular fondness for dots, stylized flowers and birds, and a swirling grasses motif, a variation of the elegant Art Nouveau whiplash curve. In common with many book designs of the period, Morris's designs show a tendency towards an architectural aesthetic, perhaps partly influenced by his architectural training, with designs contained within a firm `architectural' frame. He also developed a distinctive and elegant style of lettering which complemented the designs. Morris produced designs for page layout, endpapers and title-pages as well, and his design work also extended to other branches of the decorative arts, including textiles, interior design, furniture and metalwork.

There are approximately 40 books with covers designed by Talwin Morris in the University of Reading rare book collections and the library of the Museum of English Rural Life. The books on display included items from the Printing Collection, the Children's Collection, the Museum of English Rural Life Library, and items on loan from private collections.

List of exhibitsTalwin Morris cover

The book of Glasgow Cathedral : a history and description, edited by George Eyre-Todd; with special chapters written by Archbishop Eyre, ... J.F.S. Gordon, ... ; illustrated by David Small, ... and others. Glasgow : Morison Brothers, 1898. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO--726.650941435-BOO

The handsome Brandons : a story for girls, by Katharine Tynan ... ; with twelve illustrations by Gertrude Demain Hammond. London : Blackie and Son, 1899. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. On loan from a private collection.

The principles and practice of modern house-construction : including water-supply and fittings, sanitary fittings and plumbing, drainage and sewage-disposal, warming ventiliation, lighting, sanitary aspects of furniture and decoration, climate and situation stables, sanitary law, &c., written by F.W. Andrewes ... [et al.] ; edited by G. Lister Sutcliffe. London : Gresham Publishing Company, [1898-1899?] Vol. 5 of 6-volume set. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. Signed with elongated TM monogram in bottom right-hand corner of front board. PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO--690.942-PRI

A rash promise; or, Meg's secret, [by Cecilia Selby Lowndes] illustrated. New edition. London : Blackie,1903. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. CHILDREN'S COLLECTION--823.8-LOW (see image above)

The reign of the Princess Naska, by Amelia Hutchison Stirling ; with drawings by Paul Hardy. London : Blackie and Son, 1899. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. Signed with elongated TM monogram in bottom right-hand corner of front board. CHILDREN'S COLLECTION--823.8-STI (see image below)

The poems of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, with a prefatory notice, biographical and critical, by Joseph Skipsey. London : Mudie’s Select Library, 1900. Part of The Canterbury Poets Series (Mudie’s ‘Morris’ Edition). Binding designed by Talwin Morris. Signed with 3-dot device on spine and in bottom left-hand corner of front board. On loan from a private collection. Talwin Morris cover

An eighteenth century anthology, with an introduction by Alfred Austin. London : Blackie and Son, [1904] Part of the The Red Letter Library series. Binding design, title-page, frontispiece and endpapers by Talwin Morris. PRINTING COLLECTION--821.508-EIG  

What Katy did at school, by Susan Coolidge. London : Blackie and Son, [n.d]. Part of the Blackie’s Library of Famous Books series. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. Signed with 3-dot device on spine. CHILDREN’S COLLECTION—813.4-COO

What Katy did : a story, by Susan Coolidge. London : Blackie and Son, [n.d]. Part of the Blackie’s Library of Famous Books series. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. Signed with 3-dot device on spine. CHILDREN’S COLLECTION—813.4-COO (see image below)

The children of the New Forest, by Captain Marryat. London : Blackie and Son, [n.d]. Part of the Blackie’s Library of Famous Books series. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. Signed with 3-dot device on spine. CHILDREN’S COLLECTION—823.7-MAR

The book of the home : an encyclopaedia of all matters relating to the house and household management. Vol. 4 of 7-volume set. London : Gresham Publishing Company, [1904?] Binding designed by Talwin Morris. On loan from a private collection.

English masques, selected and with an introduction by Herbert Arthur Evans. Glasgow : Blackie and Son, 1897. Part of The Warwick library of English literature series. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. PRINTING COLLECTION--822.08-EVA Talwin Morris cover

The horse : its treatment in health and disease, with a complete guide to breeding, training and management, edited by J. Wortley Axe. London : Gresham Publishing Company,1905. Vol. 2 of 4-volume set. Binding designed by Talwin Morris. PRINTING COLLECTION FOLIO--636.1-HOR,2.

Poems by Percy Bysshe Shelley ; with an introduction by Alice Meynell. London : Blackie and Son,1903 (1904 printing) Part of The Red letter library series. Binding design, title-page, frontispiece and endpapers by Talwin Morris. PRINTING COLLECTION--821.77 [see detail from cover design at top of page].

Poems, by Matthew Arnold. With an introduction by Alice Meynell. London : Blackie and Son, [1923?] Part of The Red Letter Poets series. Binding design, title-page, and endpapers by Talwin Morris. On loan from a private collection.

Cymbeline. London : Blackie and Son, 1907. Part of The Red Letter Shakespeare series, edited by E.K. Chambers. Binding design, title-page, endpapers and general book design by Talwin Morris. On loan from a private collection.

The two gentlemen of Verona. London : Gresham Publishing Company, [n.d.] Part of The Red Letter Shakespeare series, edited by E.K. Chambers. Binding design, title-page and general book design by Talwin Morris. On loan from a private collection [see image above].

The tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. London : Gresham Publishing Company, [n.d.] Part of The Red Letter Shakespeare series, edited by E.K. Chambers. Binding design, title-page and general book design by Talwin Morris. On loan from a private collection.

Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. With illustrations by H.M. Brock. London : Gresham Publishing Company, 1902. Binding design by Talwin Morris. BROCK COLLECTION.

Le Chevalier des Touches, by Jules Barbey D'Aurevilly. Edited by P.A. Lewis. London : Blackie and Son, 1923. Part of Blackie’s Longer French Texts series. Cover design by Talwin Morris. On loan from a private collection.

Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope. Illustrated by L. Leslie Brooke. With an introduction by William Keith Leask. London : Gresham Publishing Company, [ca. 1900] Binding design by Talwin Morris. On loan from a private collection.

The gardener's assistant : a practical and scientific exposition of the art of gardening in all its branches, by Robert Thompson. A new edition revised and entirely remodelled under the direction and general editorship of William Watson. London : The Gresham Publishing Company, 1903. Part of 6-volume set. Binding design by Talwin Morris. MERL LIBRARY--4756 THO

Bibliography

  • Gerald Cinamon. Talwin Morris, Blackie and the Glasgow Style, The Private Library, Spring 1987, pp. 3-46.
  • Chris S. Seaton. The book designs of Talwin Morris (1865-1911). Review of Scottish Culture, 1986, pp. 13-17.
  • Talwin Morris & the Glasgow Style : 26 April - 11 July 2005, Blackwell, the Arts & Crafts House / [text by Harvey Wilkinson], [exhibition catalogue]. [Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria] : Lakeland Arts Trust, 2005. Available in Special Collections open access reference: FOLIO--745.4090340941443-MOR/WIL
  • John Russell Taylor. The Art Nouveau book in Britain. Edinburgh : Paul Harris Publishing, 1979. Available in Special Collections open access reference: MARK LONGMAN LIBRARY--741.640942-TAY. 1966 edition available for loan at the University Library: 655.53-TAY (4th Floor).
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