I've just visited Kelmscott Manor in Gloucestershire, at one time the home of the artist, designer and socialist pioneer, William Morris. I wandered through this time capsule with the wonderfully knowledgeable John Mitchinson who knows a lot more about Morris than I ever will.
As we wandered around this exquisite house I started to draw rather tenuous comparisons between my own life and his, rapidly realising there is a limit to how far I could stretch such vain notions.
True, Morris had a legendary bad temper as wasn’t very good at relationships with women, two flaws I have also struggled with.
True he did throw a Christmas pudding through the kitchen window when it ‘wasn’t good enough,’ even at my most moody I’ve never done anything like that.
He struggled with the contradictions of life, argued that someone who was successful could still believe in and live by socialist principals and shrug off the pointy accusations of hypocrisy from embittered conservatives, something I’ve had to grow used to doing, but he truly lived what he believed and try as I might, I have resolutely failed to achieve such heights.
However the deep belief that it is possible to live together in a more comfortable, less competitive and cruel way does possibly illuminate a link.
Not for a moment would I compare my writing with his, *News from Gardenia* is at best inspired by the ideas he explored in his 1890 novel, *News from Nowhere* but I haven't tried to imitate his style or even his ideas.
However his book had a profound effect on my outlook which hasn't faded over the years and it's clarity of vision and strength certainly drove me to write mine.
Gladly, I haven't experienced the withering decline from utopian socialism into reactionary conservatism so common among my generation, if anything the reverse has taken place.
News from Gardenia is an unashamedly utopian story, set 200 years in the future where the human race lives in a very technologically developed world and yet in harmony with the planet they inhabit.
I am now anxiously awaiting the response to my book. I will hold the first copy this Wednesday and the book is launched next Thursday (19th April).
If it has one hundredth the impact Morris' writing had, I will be pleased.
The first run of the printed book is already sold, the audio version and the digital version will be available soon, it will be a Kindle book, an e-book and by mid summer, a paperback available in all good bookstores and online from Amazon etc.