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William Morris on Prostitution: A Letter of August 17, 1885

Terry L. Meyers

    Kelsmcott House, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, August 17.
Sir,--The Socialist League is going to have a platform of its own, at which I shall have to speak as in duty bound. But besides that, if you will allow me to define my position a little closer, I must say that I fear the matter is now being pushed in a wrong direction. I am far from sure as to the wisdom of some of the main provisions of the bill (though, of course, I am opposed to the Tory and "respectable" opponents of the movement), and I am quite sure that no legislative enactment will touch prostitution as long as the present condition of the people exists; as long, in short, as there are rich and poor classes. I think it is misleading and dangerous to put any other view than this before people, and I especially fear the very possible danger of a Puritan revival obscuring the real cause of this hideous unhappiness. Of course you will understand that I have nothing to say against the single-heartedness of most of those engaged in the movement, and that I think that they have done good service in exposing the rottenness of society on this point. With many thanks for your kind persistence in asking me to speak, I am, dear Sir, yours faithfully, WILLIAM MORRIS.