Wednesday, August 12, 2009


This may be my favorite William Morris pattern, Pimpernel, ever since my sister wallpapered her stairway in it twenty years ago. I am luxuriating in having yards of reproduction fabric in three colorways from The Morris Workshop line.

"Pimpernel" is the name that the Morris workshop gave to their wallpaper in 1876. A pimpernel is a flower. Anagallis arvensis is an English plant that seems actually to be considered a weed. I always thought the flower in the wallpaper looked like a tulip since I had no idea what a pimpernel was. I did some quick and dirty research, brought up some pimpernel photographs on the web, and now I realize the pimpernels are the background flowers. Those are tulips with pimpernels creeping around behind them.

An English gardener has a blog with a photo that shows how they grow in the garden as they do in the Morris pattern.


All I know about pimpernels is a melodramatic 1930s movie called The Scarlet Pimpernel, which used to be on Million Dollar Movies in the afternoon when I was in grade school. I see it was drawn from a play by Baroness Emmuska Orczy about the French revolution. The hero, sort of like Zorro, assumed a mysterious identity to aid the suffering.

The reason I bring this all up, aside from an enjoyment of the word pimpernel, is that I had intended in The Morris Workshop fabric to include the designer's name and the date and name of the design on the selvage of each piece, but we ran out of room. People might like that information so I made a PDF and linked it to my website. You can download a sheet with an index to each print. Click here to download that file.



  1. Stewart Grainger is my favourite Pimpernel but Richard Grant's version was pretty good too. Baroness Orzcy wrote a good yarn. Lovely fabric.

  2. The Scarlet Pimpernel was also a series of books that I read as a teenager. I think they were my mother's when she was young so pretty old. I loved them though.