[In the following passage, Hanson places William Morris's fervently anti-colonial views of General Gordon in the context of the debate about heroism and imperialism that took place after his death in Egypt. — George P. Landow].

The posthumous lionizing of General Gordon and the sympathetic portrayal of his actions was attacked as;ain and again in Commonweal, of which Morris was founder and coeditor. The March 1885 issue opens with an unsigned editorial condemning Gordon's actions and the society that admires him. It is immediately followed by an article by Bax. which concludes by urging 'the working classes of England' to 'remember that this organised brigandage was deliberately planned from the beginning and that Gordon's "pacific mission" was only too obviously a blind'. In a letter of 3 March of the same year, Morris writes that, 'I hope by this time most people know what we Socialists think of the Khartoum-stealers and the spreaders of the blessings of shoddy civiliation [sic]." As late as 1889, Morris used Gordon's actions as a touchstone for all that was wrong with colonialism as an expression of capitalism: 'slaughter and destruction carried on wholesale in a bad cause is murder of the worst kind: murder, the evil consequences of which are hard to foresee or measure. [105]


Hanson, Ingrid. William Morris and the Uses of Violence, 1856-1890. London: Anthem Press, 2013. [Review in the Victorian Web]

Last modified 26 May 2010