William Morris: The Water of the Wondrous Isles

(2666 words)

Among the eight medievalesque prose romances William Morris wrote towards the end of his life, The Water of the Wondrous Isles (1897) is distinctive for two reasons. First, it is the most chivalric, most courtly. Knights go on quests, serve their ladies, and act like characters Morris had first encountered in the works of Malory and Froissart when he was an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford. One can imagine the young painter who contributed a panel to the Oxford Union's chivalric decorative scheme in 1857 writing this work late in life. But we perhaps do not expect him to produce the grim, semi-historical romances about the Germanic tribes of the pre-chivalric Dark Ages (The House of the Wolfings and The …

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Boenig, Robert. "The Water of the Wondrous Isles". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 December 2006
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=21572, accessed 22 May 2015.]