Geoff Groberg

William Morris – Useful Work versus Useless Toil

William Morris. Windrush, 1883-4.

William Morris has wonderful things to say about wealth:

“Next there is the mass of people employed in making all those articles of folly and luxury, the demand for which is the outcome of the existence of the rich non-producing classes; things which people leading a manly and uncorrupted life would not ask for or dream of. These things, whoever may gainsay me, I will for ever refuse to call wealth: they are not wealth, but waste. Wealth is what Nature gives us and what a reasonable man can make out of the gifts of Nature for his reasonable use. The sunlight, the fresh air, the unspoiled face of the earth, food, raiment and housing necessary and decent; the storing up of knowledge of all kinds, and the power of disseminating it; means of free communication between man and man; works of art, the beauty which man creates when he is most a man, most aspiring and thoughtful – all things which serve the pleasure of people, free, manly, and uncorrupted. This is wealth.”

The excerpt above is from William Morris’s Useful Work versus Useless Toil.


  1. Hi, Geoff: This is Andy Hartzell, checking in on your blog. I did a report on William Morris in High School! Very inspiring quotes, especially for someone (me) who just lost his job. Fie on useless luxury! Hooray for the simple life.

    Comment by Andy H on November 9, 2012 at 1:25 am

  2. Hi Andy. Thanks for checking in. And congratulations on the simple life. 😉 Do you have some good prospects I hope? I discovered William Morris by accident while strolling thru the library at BYU, where I work. Yes, a regular full-time job. It’s a miracle.

    Comment by Geoff Groberg on November 9, 2012 at 4:16 am