Obituary: Nicholas Salmon

The Independent (London), Mar 12, 2002 by Peter Faulkner

THE DEATH of Nicholas Salmon at the age of 44 has deprived William Morris studies of one of its most energetic and wide-ranging scholars.

After obtaining a BA in English at the University of East Anglia (where his tutors included Lorna Sage) and an MA in Victorian Studies at Leicester University, he went on to Reading University, where he wrote his dissertation "William Morris: the political vision 1883- 1890", under the supervision of Patrick Parrinder. While he was at Leicester he had contracted ME, which makes the range of his subsequent achievements the more remarkable. The title of the thesis was perhaps misleading, as one of Morris's strongest appeals to Salmon lay in the extraordinary breadth of his interests. Salmon's first degree was in literature, and, although he became perhaps the most knowledgeable student of Morris's politics since E.P. Thompson, he always insisted on the wholeness of Morris's vision.

In 1994 the Thoemmes Press of Bristol brought out the first part of their "William Morris Library", which included Salmon's hefty and important volume of William Morris's Political Writings, which made available for the first time a wide range of Morris's contributions to the socialist periodicals Justice and Commonweal between 1884 and 1890.

This was followed in the Morris centenary year, 1996, by the equally substantial and valuable William Morris Journalism: contributions to Commonweal 1885-1890. In the same remarkable year he also produced The William Morris Chronology, a wonderfully informative work undertaken with Derek Baker, and William Morris on History, which he edited for Sheffield Academic Press in a series of which he was General Editor. He acted as adviser on the political aspect for the Morris Centenary Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, contributing a typically forceful essay, "The Political Activist", to the catalogue edited by Linda Parry.

He was also a meticulous editor of The Journal of the William Morris Society from 1996 to 2001, making special efforts to encourage first-time contributors. He joined the committee of the William Morris Society in 1994 and brought to its meetings an energy and enthusiasm that were a stimulus and challenge to more staid colleagues. An enthusiast for the democratic potential of the new technology, he set up, with Chris Coombe, "The William Morris Internet Archive" (

But Salmon's interests were by no means restricted to Morris matters. While at Leicester, he began compiling material on the history of Amersham, where he lived. This was to result in publications such as Yesterday's Town: Amersham in 1991 and a centenary history of Amersham Hospital.

In 1997 Nick and Bridget Salmon bought a cottage at Darshill near Shepton Mallet and its surrounding woodlands, and proceeded to restore it along conservationist lines, joining the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Characteristically in view of his commitment to the idea of community, Salmon became chair of the Darshill and Bowlish Conservation Society in 2001.

Nicholas James Alexander Salmon, writer: born Frinton- on-Sea, Essex 20 August 1957; married 2000 Bridget Williams; died Amersham, Buckinghamshire 6 March 2002.

© 2002 Independent Newspapers UK Limited

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