Hannah More

1745 (Stapleton, Bristol, England) – 1833 (Clifton)

More was a paternalistic yet enlightened philanthropist, author and abolitionist. In London in her late 20’s she was captivated by Garrick’s performances, was introduced and became a close friend; he helped her write her plays (before she foreswore the theatre). She also met Reynolds, and through him Johnson (who greatly admired her), and had a poem printed by Walpole. She sought Newton’s spiritual advice, and was among the group who persuaded Wilberforce to take up the abolitionist cause. As friends, both Newton and Wilberforce stayed with her; among other visitors were de Quincey, Coleridge, Fry and the young Macaulay.

Robert Owen

1771 (Newtown, Wales) – 1858 (Newtown)

In Manchester, Fulton lodged with Owen, and got him to back his proposed digging-machines; Owen also clashed there with the young Coleridge (becoming friends), and met his great friend and discussion-partner Dalton. Engels, a great admirer, wrote for his newspaper. Bentham backed him. He enjoyed philosophical argument with Godwin, Malthus, Wilberforce and Ricardo, all admirers of his New Lanark achievements. Pictet hosted a trip to Paris, introducing Cuvier, Humboldt and Laplace. Maclure, Lesueur, Say and Neef were all involved in his utopian adventure in America, two of his sons marrying Neef’s daughters.

William Morris

1834 (Walthamstow, England) – 1896 (London)

Many of Morris’s friends were also close collaborators, living deeply intertwined lives. Rossetti, initially a mentor, became a close colleague (as well as naming his pet wombat after Morris, and falling for his wife); Burne-Jones was a fellow-colleague and lifetime friend. Webb, another friend for life, was met when Morris was an architectural apprentice, while Brown was another colleague and business partner. Engels gave Morris advice on forming a socialist movement but doubted his practicality; Shaw shared many ideals, dined regularly with him, but was miffed when Morris, lecturing around the corner, got all the audience.

William Morris knew…

William Wilberforce

1759 (Hull, England) – 1833 (London)

Clarkson and More were among those who persuaded Wilberforce to fight for the abolition of slavery; later, honeymooning, he stayed with More. Wedgwood met and corresponded with Wilberforce, and produced an anti-slavery medallion. Wilberforce visited Owen, who dedicated an influential essay to him, and corresponded about abolitionist issues with Morse. Southey, another correspondent, noted Wilberforce’s liveliness. Travelling in France with close friend William Pitt, Wilberforce met Franklin in Paris. The ex-slave-trader and author of ‘Amazing Grace’, Newton, was a visitor to Wilberforce’s aunt’s house; Wilberforce lived there after his father’s death, and said he revered Newton “like a parent.”