Despite his wealthy upbringing and his Oxbridge background, William Morris, March 1834-October 1896, played an important part in the early development of socialism in the UK.
In January 1881 Morris was involved in the establishment of the Radical Union, an amalgam of radical working-class groups which hoped to rival the Liberals, and became a member of its executive committee. However, he soon rejected liberal radicalism completely and moved toward socialism. In this period, British socialism was a small, fledgling and vaguely defined movement, with only a few hundred adherents. Britain's first socialist party, the Democratic Federation (DF), had been founded by Henry Hyndman, an adherent of the socio-political ideology of Marxism, with Morris joining the DF in January 1893. Morris began to read voraciously on the subject of socialism, including Henry George's Progress and Poverty, Alfred Russel Wallace's Land Nationalisation, and Karl Marx's Das Kapital, although admitted that Marx's economic analysis of capitalism gave him "agonies of confusion on the brain". Instead he preferred the writings of William Cobbett and Sergius Stepniak, although also read the critique of socialism produced by John Stuart Mill.
Spirit of Revolt have just added the Second Series Vol.II No.2 of The Commune, The William Morris Issue, published by Guy Aldred in February 1927, to their read of the month, collection. It is well worth a read.