Talwin Morris worked as a
book designer from 1893 to 1911, the year of his death. Born in 1865 in
Winchester, England, he moved to Glasgow in 1893 to become the Art Director for
the publisher Blackie & Son. As of 1898, he also designed books for Blackie
& Son’s subsidiary, Gresham Publishing.
befriended Charles Rennie Mackintosh and other proponents of the
Glasgow Style, a particularly Scottish expression of Art Nouveau.
In fact, one of Mackintosh’s better known buildings, Hill House,
designed for Walter Blackie, came about due to Morris’ influence
(Macleod 90). He introduced
Mackintosh to Walter Blackie and championed his work.
Morris also commissioned
book designs from Mackintosh and from a number of other artists in the Glasgow
Style circle. His designs also reflected many of the stylistic forms and symbols
found in the others’ works. Those forms draw on natural shapes such as roses,
stems and feathers but Morris also used linear and architectural motifs in his
Blackie & Son sold
popular books, including children’s books, school texts, theological and
philosophical works, popular novels, and poetry. They also published science
texts, dictionaries, and encyclopedias. Gresham Publishing also sold popular
material in addition to reference texts and manuals. The books aimed for general
readership and both publishers were important suppliers to book purchasers in
Morris worked during a
very dynamic period of book design. Bookbinding technology permitted
increasingly elaborate and colourful designs, and Morris took advantage of the
possibilities as they developed. His later designs incorporate different colours
and bolder shapes, reflecting improvements in binding craft.