In 2017 Linda Parry – curator, textile historian and William Morris scholar – gifted her research archive to the William Morris Gallery. Compiled over nearly five decades, the collection includes photographs, handwritten notes, correspondence, extracts from publications and journals and copies of manuscript material, covering all aspects of Morris's life and work, his business Morris & Co., as well as many of his collaborators.
Its value lies not only in the wealth of information it contains, but also in the way it has been organised and classified. This is particularly true of the visual material. Nowhere else is it possible, for example, to view side by side images of nearly every known carpet manufactured by Morris & Co., or browse through photographs of many of the interiors the firm were commissioned to decorate in the late nineteenth century. Taken as a whole, it also offers insight into how serious study of Morris's decorative arts evolved in the second half of the twentieth century and the network of scholars, museum professionals, collectors and dealers, who contributed to it. The organisation of the William Morris centenary exhibition at the V&A in 1996, conceived and curated by Parry, is particularly well documented.
Naturally, a lot of the information it contains has been published and researchers are recommended to consult Linda Parry's published works in the first instance. A full list of titles can be downloaded from the William Morris Gallery's website.
The archive includes a collection of over 4000 slides that have been digitised and are available to view in the Reading Room. Divided into 105 categories, they provide a rich body of visual references for the work of Morris, his circle and Arts and Crafts design in Britain and abroad. Particularly strong on textiles, highlights include images from specialist periodicals, pattern books, photographs of interiors, as well as British textiles in European collections (e.g. Textile Museum, Krefeld, Germany and Mulhouse Museum of Printed Textiles, France). The slides were collected over several decades as reference material and for delivering lectures. The images are being made available for research purposes only (anyone wishing to reproduce must seek permission from the copyright holder).